And Before I Forget I Love You, I Love You
Pip Utton is a veteran of The Fringe, an experienced actor who over the years has performed a number of solo roles covering such famous people as Churchill, Dickens and Margaret Thatcher. This piece is different in that its more about a subject than a person—and is very moving as a consequence.
Alzheimer's is the modern scourge of our age and accounted for 12% of all deaths in 2016. It’s a nasty disease as it progressively strips the victims of their personality and dignity and anything of them that made them who they were—leaving the relatives to cope with a shell of the previous loved one.
Utton starts off welcoming us to the wake of his beloved wife Chrissie, a long relationship that started at school and produced a fulfilling marriage and one son. Utton is a consummate actor and plays the distraught husband well, although maybe some home movie-type film of them as a happy, younger couple might have helped to get the audience involved as much as he was from the outset. It’s hard to be parachuted into someone else’s grief without some sort of bridge, and the fact he was reading the speech made it look a bit like he’d forgotten his lines.
However, once we get past the rather awkward opening and we were into scenes where Pip himself discovers he has Alzheimer's too and we follow his progress down a horrifying route to mental oblivion, the piece really gets into its stride and becomes very poignant and moving.
He knows the path he has to face—having been that way with his wife—and he dreads it. This is not a heroic story of coping or putting on a brave face; this a man dreading the future but succumbing anyway in spite of himself.
A challenging, thought-provoking piece that made me re-consider my views on euthanasia.
Reviewer: Suzanne Hawkes