Alzheimer That Ends Heimer – part of SummerWorks – opened last night at Factory Theatre and played to an audience about 30 years older than the typical SummerWorks audience. We have aging parents, some of them demented, and are struggling to find the ” lighter side of dementia” promised in the SummerWorks’ program blurb.
Writer Jay Teitel narrates the show which is based on his experience with his father’s Alzheimer’s. The show is billed as a musical but I think that’s a bit misleading. There’s a show within a show that has a few musical numbers but don’t expect catchy songs about dementia.
Teitel’s message is to just go with the flow, don’t try and bring the person with Alzheimer’s back into the ‘real’ world; enter into their world instead. Maybe respect their world is more accurate.
Teitel started the show by saying that he was a writer, not an actor. (‘not an actor’ seemed to be the theme of my evening) He has a nice self-deprecating stage presence which would have been enough if this had been a solo show with him telling the story with the help of some pictures.
It started off that way and then George (played by Ben Irving) and Sue (played by Kathryn Davis) arrived on the stage both dressed as if they were at a garden party in the ’30s: George in tennis whites and Sue in a maid’s uniform. Later another character was added to the mix: Dementieva, played by Amy Rutherford, a minor god; the god of confusion.
Teitel’s stories about his father were lovely, funny and touching. It felt good to be able to laugh about Alzheimer’s with a large group of people. For me, to this point, it’s been me and my brothers rolling our eyes and laughing about our mother. She isn’t nearly as funny as Teitel’s father but you you have to work with what you’ve got.
I would have been happy to just listen to those stories. I found the show within a show distracting until the very end. It took a long time to set it up. The show would be better without the show within a show or without the narrator. Together I found them jarring.
Still I’m glad I saw the show. If you need the relief of laughing about Alzheimer’s go see it.
Show times: Thursday August 8, 8:00 pm; Saturday August 10, 5:30 pm; Sunday August 11, 5:30 pm; Monday August 12, 3:00 pm; Wednesday August 14, 8:00 pm; Thursday August 15, 12:30 pm; Sunday August 18, 3:00 pm.
All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-915-6747 and at the Lower Ossington Box Office (100A Ossington Avenue, first floor) Aug. 6-18 10AM-7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows
Photo of Jay Teitel by Debra Friedman and Uncle Bob