An older woman in a trench coat wanders the far left aisle of the theatre. Not sure if she’s looking for a seat or if she is an actor in the play, I look at her from the corner of my eye. The woman is Carlynn, and soon she leaps onstage and begins speaking with Jonathon – and Let’s Play House begins.
Jonathon has a mom with Alzheimer’s and Carlynn has a son with mysterious chronic pain and depression. Compelling scenes unfold: a mother dealing with her son and fatigued prayers to God for help; a son frustrated with his Alzheimer’s-ridden mom because she has a bad attitude. I personally identified with many of the scenes and emotions in the play.
Dance visually demonstrates feelings and mental states throughout the play. From waltzing to modern dance to using crutches as dancing aids, both actors impressed me with their flexibility and capacity to show through this art form. Carlynn is a silver-haired woman who reminds me of an older Audrey Hepburn – petite, light on her feet, and whimsically graceful. I was impressed with her flexibility and dance partnership with Jonathon.
The music and sound effects caused a mixed reaction for me. The rock music, at times, seemed out of place with the storyline. Other sound effects, like the bell that is rung during a pivotal scene, affected me due to its religious allusion.
Let’s Play House is unique and fascinating. The play morphs and changes shape as it continues; there is no dull moment. Alzheimer’s here is not debilitating, but humorous and manageable; possibly, even an adventure. The pamphlet I received walking into the theatre offered “Improv for Alzheimer’s” workshops, a wonderful new idea I never considered could work – until I saw this show, that is.
Through well-written dialogue and periods of dance, a connection between mother and son is made; I reflected upon my relationships with family and my attitude towards life after watching this. What a wonderful, intriguing play to see. It addresses disease in a special way and I am extremely glad I got the chance to see it.
Director: Dennis Hassell
Choreographer: Carlynn Reed & Jonathon Neville
Company: Imagiscape Productions
Cast: Carlynn Reed & Jonathon Neville
Genre: Drama, Dance
Venue: George Ignatieff Theatre, 15 Devonshire Place
Fri, July 8 8:45 PM
Sat, July 9 1:45 PM
Sun, July 10 3:00 PM
Mon, July 11 10:15 PM
Wed, July 13 5:45 PM
Sat, July 16 12:30 PM
Sun, July 17 7:30 PM
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only).
– Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows