John Peel Centre
I must come clean, neither performance poetry or stand up comedy, nor indeed any combination of the two could be said to fall into my comfort zone as a reviewer. I was however intrigued by the premise of Rob Gee’s piece: Forget Me Not – The Alzheimer’s Whodunnit.
His former life as a psychiatric nurse gives Rob a unique insight into life on a dementia ward. That he left the NHS under a cloud for expressing concerns at what he saw, wrote a play about his experiences and that that play is now being used to train NHS professionals in ethics makes for a story in itself, but I digress.
Forget Me Not is a one-man play involving too many characters to count. Each are distinguished by subtle changes of voice, of stance, or of inflection on an almost bare stage – the only prop being a chair.
To settle us in Rob introduces us to Elsie, at a time before dementia took a grip, when she was lucid but painfully aware of what lay ahead. Little did she know her death would ultimately be suspicious and the subject of a police investigation.
What then follows is a real whodunit. You become intrigued by the characters as they are introduced one by one. But more than that are the facts that Rob slips in that make you think: the guilt felt by Elsie’s husband of forty plus years at seeing her in a care home or the fact that there are only four nurses on duty looking after over thirty difficult patients.
By the time of the intermission we had met most of the characters and everyone in the audience was working out just exactly who we thought had done it. In the second half the cracks began to show, the red herrings became apparent and the murderer finally revealed – and yes, most of us got it wrong!
A thoroughly entertaining piece in its own right as a murder mystery, made even more intriguing by the fact that it is set in a real institution – albeit one that has changed greatly in twenty-five years.