Based on the book by Lisa Genova, UoN’s New Theatre bring their student-centralised spin to this compelling tale based around Alzheimer’s disease and how it effects normal every day people…
The story is centred around teacher Alice Howdman who seems to have a happy 50 years until she realises she is forgetting normal little things for example whilst out on a run, she forgets her home address and is more irritable as a result – after a meeting with the doctor, she realises she is developing Alzheimer’s disease. The play follows her and her family over three years from her diagnosis to her eventual getting taken over by the disease.
New Theatre takes a unique approach to the play by having two actors playing Alice, with one tasked with representing her inner thoughts and concerns. One of the best scenes is when she delivers a speech about Alzheimer’s and directly speaks to us, the audience, making her overcoming her restraints more victorious.
The play definitely captures the reality of living with Alzheimer’s and the challenges faced by the disease. The set is quite simplistic, with interesting visuals for example Neurones, nerve endings, brain scans and a mix of naturalistic images with only the physical sets being the Howdman’s kitchen and the doctor’s office. I also find the transition music despite being repetitive to be very moving and made me feel sympathetic towards Alice.
One personal gripe is that the actors playing the two versions are not similar to each other in terms and would’ve preferred only subtle differences between their mannerisms and voices. I also felt there were certain scenes which possibly explained too much through speech for example when Alice is taking the tests.
In conclusion, whilst Still Alice doesn’t quite reach the heights set by previous New Theatre hits such as Order From Chaos, this was still an enjoyable show.
By Stuart McComb
Feature image credit: New Theatre