Above – Alice Livingstone and Georgia Weston-Allen. Cover – Andrew James and Alice Livingstone. Photos – Nic Walker.

Fleetwood Mac meets Shakespeare in writer director David Allen’s Mad For You.

Tell Me Lies, the Fleetwood Mac classic plays and fades at the beginning of the show before a dishevelled, distressed, disoriented woman bursts onto the stage. This is Janet Sankey, former performer, and she is suffering Alzheimer’s.

Her husband, Brian, a writer of television soaps, is determined to care for her at home but his coping mechanism is stretched. His eldest daughter, Fran, more pragmatic, urges him to place their mother in a care facility.

Brian is torn and tormented by a promise made to Janet about not placing her in an institution but the reality of her descent into the disease poses an immense challenge to that noble pledge, a battle between the emotional and the rational.

This is the theatre of conflict with this insidious disease, where the rational engages with the irrational, the incontinent conscious, and guilt, recriminations, helplessness and hopelessness have a field day.

Allusions to Lear and Hamlet abound conjured by the court of madness no doubt but more pointedly from the notion of allegiance. Fran is likened to Goneril and Regan while the youngest daughter, Ellie, who has relocated to Adelaide to become a puff piece reporter is cast as Cordelia, the prodigal daughter played by Geogia Weston-Allen. Her father’s remark about her position in the pantheon of journalism is one of the pithiest in the play.

The three leads, Alice Livingstone as Janet Sankey, Andrew James as her husband, Brian, and Emma Louise, as their eldest daughter, Fran are strikingly good as the vexed family grappling with the tensions of dementia.

Livingstone is especially convincing in her pendulum swings, a centrifugal force fanned by fear and frustration, that inkling of awareness of her affliction diminishing her sense of self. She is particularly touching singing tunes and busting moves from Janet’s bygone glory days as a stage performer.  

Set and costume designer Liz Allen augments the production with a series of flats with illustrations that suggest lapses in synapses, a palimpsest set, under Hunter McMahon’s simple and effective lighting.

Event details

ADHOC Theatre presents
Mad For You
by David Allen

Director David Allen

Venue: Sydney Acting Studio | 9-11 Cope Street Redfern NSW
Dates: 2 – 11 February 2024
Tickets: $39
Bookings: www.trybooking.com

 

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