Alzheimer's is a subject that is close to Geez a Break Productions, the company that produced If I Forget to Remember. Thinking it would be the perfect topic for this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, they began work on this play, which was written by company founder Liam Lambie and inspired by some of his real life experiences whilst caring for his grandmother who suffered from dementia.
The show tells the heart-breaking story of Margaret “Maggie” Patterson, who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's at the age of 52. The audience follows Maggie and her family, as they are forced to make preparations to cope with her descent into the depths of the illness.
The people of Bellshill and its surrounding areas didn’t do the play the justice it deserved, given the sparse audience that turned up for the performance, but I must start by praising the cast for their professionalism. They gave 100%, especially during the many emotional scenes they had to portray.
The first and second halves of this play were in stark contrast. The comedic first half set it all up for the hard-hitting, thought-provoking second half, and, for me, it was the second half where the play really began.
Although the first half was enjoyable in its own right, there was nothing truly memorable about it, except for the short foray into colourful sexual references in the second scene, which I’m afraid did cause a couple of people to walk out. But it proved to be to their loss, as the second half started with a startling monologue from Maggie, the main character, played fantastically by Jacquline Gilbride.
In fact, the whole portrayal of this character and her fall from basic human functioning was performed brilliantly by Jacquline, and a definite highlight of the play. Truth be told, the level of performance from all the cast was of a very high standard, especially, as I said earlier, when it came to the most emotional scenes.
All in all, if you can understand that the weaker first half is a set up for the powerful second half, you see a very well constructed piece that in the end leaves you feeling emotional, as you think back to the jovial characters from the beginning. Overall, If I Forget to Remember leaves you in no doubt as to what a horrible disease Alzheimer’s is and is worth the ticket money for the second half alone.
by Colin MacGregor
If I Forget to Remember will also be performed on Thursday 27 October from 7.30–9.20pm at Rutherglen Town Hall. Click here for booking information.