In Other Words is a deeply romantic story with a firm grip on your heart. It follows Jane and Arthur’s tragic encounter with the Alzheimer’s disease. The married couple learns how to deal with Arthur’s advancing dementia through music.
Celeste Dodwell (Jane) and Matthew Seager give an emotionally engaging performance that touches the audience to tears. From their first encounter to their later married life, the storyline follows their relationship up close. The couple’s song is a constant companion, from their young days until the late stages of dementia, helping Arthur to remember his self.
Matthew Seager (Writer and performing as Arthur) has experienced the curing effect of music when facilitating sensory stimulation workshops in a dementia care home. Music therapy is a recognised phenomenon. Familiarity with a song can restore old memories. That was the initial inspiration for In Other Words.
The set itself is like a glimpse into your grandparents’ living room. It is quite minimalistic, with only two armchairs and an old fashioned standard lamp, but that is all you need to create a familiar atmosphere.
The scenes were masterly devised, especially Arthur’s dementia moments. Even though Arthur’s emotions during the episodes of dementia are not spelled out, they are very clearly communicated. The light and sound effects are overwhelming and give the audience an idea of the stress and confusion one must feel with Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the play also acknowledges Jane’s struggle with being the caretaker. Following her through her everyday life experience with Arthur’s disease and emotionally exhausting situations is very educative.
One issue with the script was that the language was too modern. It would have added to the characters of Jane and Arthur to have them speak in a more old-fashioned way that fits their generation.
Overall, the play is a great insight into the meaning of Alzheimer’s and it’s implications on the closer family. While the story is heart breaking, there are also plenty of heart-warming scenes, with the humour and the teasing of a couple that has been in love with each other throughout a lifetime.