All Change [Phrase/British/Spoken] – Used for telling people on a train or a bus that they must leave it because it is not going any further.
This is quite the metaphor for this play in so many ways.
The fact that the train symbolises the end of the road for both our main characters, Ivor and his daughter Lily.
That trains occupied a huge part of Ivor’s life, the notion of one’s train of thought and how dementia breaks this and the fact that no one actually likes change. Smokescreen Productions starts the conversation with their affecting and sentimental work, All Change.
Produced with support of new Adelaide company, STARC Productions, All Change first began as a project based on a family experience of writer and actor, Tim Marriott. It had a limited but very well received run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018 and this reception encouraged the team to reinvigorate and adapt to this year’s Fringe.
Director Nicholas Collett was very lucky indeed to have the talented Stefanie Rossi and Tim Marriott as his storytellers, no doubt making his job a little easier.
I love walking into a theatre and soaking up the set, sound and placing myself in the scene. And this stage was beautifully laid out. From the bedraggled floor and table on which Ivor works on his ‘crossword’, to the coat stand with the dress and hat to signify Grace, Ivor’s beloved long gone wife. A little That’s Life by Sinatra playing in the background. This all set the scene just perfectly.
Upon first glance, Ivor seems too hardy to be that fragile and broken, but we know dementia does not rob the body, only the mind. Lily arrives to clean up and pack and finally prepare Ivor for his move to his new ‘home’. But he is not going without a fight, or without derailing Lily’s good intentions.
Tim Marriott’s portrayal of Ivor is so real and honest, and with script consultancy by Dr Joanna Shawcross and Annabel Lambe, his performance is truly faultless.
Delicate, yet forceful at times. Innocent, yet confronting and hostile towards his loving daughter. He really shows both the jolly and diabolical sides of dementia and what it does to a family.
Rossi’s entrance as Lily is the typical frustrated, but helpless daughter, sets the tone of the relationship between father and daughter. A close and loving bond that no amount of space or time can break. A beguiling actor, Rossi can switch between adult daughter and child-like with ease and believability.
There are a series of flashbacks, punctuated by blackout and sound scape [beautifully executed by Matt Derbyshire] to reflect the happenings of that time.
The first being, quite fittingly, at a train station when Lily was a little girl, where she lost the watch her father gave her.
This moment plays into the future when Ivor asks Lily on occasion for the time, and she replies ‘I don’t know, I lost my watch’.
I absolutely savoured this work, and moments such as the word game Ivor and Lily play to a couple of seconds of Ivor’s clarity of mind, show the normality and absurdity of dementia.
Thought-provoking, emotive, heart-warming and also heart-wrenching, All Change is not one to miss this Fringe.
Happy theatre travels…
This review also features on the Theatre Travels website – www.theatretravels.org