From left, Andy Ball, Christian Manderfield, Kellie D’Costa , Kim Ball, Liz Jones, and Martie Cain.
STAGE REVIEW A PLAY about dementia and the death of a mother may not sound like entertainment but Bembridge Little Theatre Club’s The Memory of Water, the tragi-comedy by Shelagh Stephenson, was exactly that.
With its theme of memory, the play opens with Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable playing in the background.
The plot centres around three sisters and the glamorous mother they have just lost to dementia, a thoroughly unglamorous illness.
What struck foremost while watching the action, which took place exclusively in the mother’s bedroom, was how entirely believable it was.
The sisters’ interaction was cleverly written and perfectly delivered. Anyone with sisters will recognise the sarcastic repartee, put-downs, and age dynamic which never changes, no matter how much people age.
Kim Ball played Mary, a doctor having an affair with a married TV doctor and was extremely enjoyable as the sarcastic, cynical sister with demons in her past.
Liz Jones was Teresa, the martyred eldest sister who feels she is holding things together. One of the high points of her realistic portrayal of a rare drinker was when she sank half a bottle of whisky.
Kellie D’Costa was Catherine, the youngest of the three, an attention seeker. She earned applause after a scene-stealing monologue, which seemed natural and almost ad-libbed.
Vi, the dazzling mother, who taught her daughters about co-ordinating shoes and handbags but not the facts of life, was played captivatingly by Martie Cain.
This was a difficult role and Cain mesmerised the audience in her rare appearances, talking about how it felt to be overcome by the darkness of dementia.
One of the most affecting scenes involved the three sisters trying on their mother’s clothes.
Andy Ball, as Teresa’s husband was charmingly placid and Christian Mandefield gave depth to the adulterous Mike.
This realistic and understated production supported the Alzheimer’s Society and The Cloisters.