Bothered and Bewildered

Date 30th March 2019
Society Cast and Crew Theatre Workshop
Venue War Memorial Hall, Canvey Island
Type of Production Play
Director Sarah Lepley


Author: Tessa Davies

This was a very thought provoking and, sometimes, distressing play to watch.  Showing the deterioration of a much loved mother into dementia will never be a light hearted matter and I think it was very brave of Director Sarah Lepley and the company to tackle this very serious subject.

The cast did an excellent job of telling the story and, I am sure, it struck a chord with a number of people in the audience.  Not exactly a light evening’s entertainment but very well performed.

Bernie Saxby played the mother, Irene, and she gave a terrific performance, showing the terrible effects that dementia can have on someone.  She not only delivered her dialogue well, but her body language and behaviour gave a very clear picture of the torment that can be there in this situation. 

Maxine Neil and Deb Adams played her daughters, Louise and Beth.  They produced two very different characters, clearly showing how this terrible condition can affect members of the family in different ways.  As the play progressed, we saw the resignation in them as they came to accept the inevitable.  Sally Catling, as Barbara Cartland, brought a welcome relief from the darkness of the story.  Her performance was very good, and it was interesting to see how the author had woven this character into the story. 

The remainder of the cast all played their parts well, Hayley Ashby was very good both as Young Irene and as Granddaughter Shelley.  Matthew Willis played both Irene’s lover Jim and her illegitimate son James, bringing an interesting twist to the story.  Lou Brewster (NHS Consultant) Bradley Bailey (Community Bobby) and the voice of Peter Dumenil completed the cast.

As always in this venue, there is very little stage and wing space and Steve Hull worked his usual magic, creating a well thought out set, which worked very well for the different elements of the story.  Assisted by Peter Dumenil, it was well constructed and sturdy.  Lighting is limited but the company know what they are doing in this venue and it was very effective.  Costumes were fine, although I would suggest that the Director sits on a chair on the floor of the hall and looks at the costumes on stage.  Hayley’s skirt (as Shelley) was rather short for an elevated stage and gave me a few anxious moments!

Overall a very good production, thought provoking and well performed.  I am just not sure I was ready for such rawness, and the audience numbers seemed to be lower than usual so, I suspect, some of the regulars may have felt the story was a bit too much to watch.

As always, thank you Cast & Crew, for making us feel so welcome.