EDINBURGH People’s Theatre have split their Spring season by gender this year. It’s an interesting experiment and their choices in subject matter reflect the traditional roles that men and women perform in society.
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Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road
In April, the company put on three well received episodes of television show Blackadder with a predominantly male cast.
This month their female cast takes on an intimate battle on the home front. And it is certainly refreshing to see strong roles for older women portrayed on stage.
Val Lennie’s aging, vulnerable Alzheimer’s ridden Irene is tender, honest and beautifully realised.
Playing opposite, as imaginary friend Barbara Cartland, Bev Wright steals the show with fantastically dated ‘advice’. The pair share glorious chemistry and comic timing.
Written by Gail Young, the story follows the last years of Irene as she battles to protect one final secret from her family as her dignity and memories are slowly stripped away by dementia.
Playing harassed daughters Louise and Beth, Lynn Cameron and Anne Mackenzie, provide strong support and their struggles to balance family life with caring will resonate with many.
Katie Johnston’s double turn as Young Irene and light hearted granddaughter Shelley buoyed the production and injected much needed energy.
Director Mike Brownsell introduced some engaging theatrical tricks, however, the stilted script seems to have been a stumbling block for the cast. The production never quite gains the tense edge required to push it through to a satisfying conclusion.