Alice is 50 years old and juggles a successful academic career at Harvard University with her also academic husband and two children.
Little signs and pockets of forgetfulness pave the way for her journey into early onset dementia. It’s a brave actress who steps into this role made famous by Julianne Moore in 2014 for which she won an Oscar.
Sharon Small succeeds in this ultimately powerful yet somewhat mismatched production.
The strength of the play lies in the sad fact that nearly all of us have been affected either directly or indirectly by this horrifically cruel illness. It tugs at the heartstrings; it may cause a few tears but this is due to the subject as opposed to the sophistication of the production.
The acting is variable and the use of actress Eva Pope playing the role of Herself (Alice’s inner monologue) isn’t quite as successful as it should be.
A huge screen dominates the back wall however it is underused merely providing a time frame for Alice’s descent into the mental abyss.
However, there is a strong central performance form Small in the title role. She portrays the stoicism and fortitude as Alice bravely confronts her illness in its early stages but ultimately giving way to confusion and fear. It’s a sensitive and dignified performance.
The rest of the cast do what they can with essentially underwritten roles. There are very affecting moments of family heartbreak as Alice makes another blunder sometimes in private and sometimes very public.
As Alice’s husband there is lovely work from Martin Marquez, especially in the last scene. Stripped bare the husband and wife simply sit in quiet dignity side by side, together but worlds apart.
This doesn’t have the substance of the gut-wrenching ‘The Father’ by Florian Zeller which tacked the same theme to devastating effect. However, it still packs a punch and depending on your experience you’ll have your own personal journey with this touring production.
Rating – 3*
Still Alice plays at the Richmond Theatre until September 22nd and then tours.
Words by Matthew Hyde