If You Fall – at HOME Mcr

I’ve said before, love me a bit of Theatre 2 at HOME Mcr. The smaller the stage, the greater the magic for me.

Wednesday night offered another hey presto moment with Ad Infinitum’s If You Fall.

Margaret is a pillar of her local community. Norson is a brilliant cook. He loves cricket and fishing. She loves singing and her lavender plants. They’re both surrounded by loving families. Their lives are full… So what happens when you lose your independence, your voice, your mind – the essence of what makes you, you?

Not an easy watch, as it’s a topic that touches us all, be that in a caring capacity, or as one day, the ‘caree’.

Based on extensive interviews, If You Fall takes us on a journey of what happens when our lives turn upside down and we start to lose a little or a lot of who we are.

Credit: Camilla Adams

From a narrative, tone and messaging point of view, there was balance. There was no finger-wagging. It was the hard fact of life that it gets difficult when you get older for both those going through it and those around them.

The decision to bring a care home into play isn’t good, bad, right or wrong, but for some may simply be a necessity for their health and well-being. And again, for some it may not.

We all have a story and for me, it’s seeing someone reach the end of their life from old age and the physical trauma and restrictions that come from this. And how that inevitably paves way for the mental trauma, as their pride is chipped away at. Step forward ‘Margaret.

And it’s additionally seeing someone afflicted before their ‘natural time’ and the equally difficult but different effect this can have on both themselves and those around us. Step forward Norson.

And the real tragedy (and beauty) of the play was seeing who each person was before a part of themselves was lost forever.

Credit: Camilla Adams

In Margaret we’re taken straight to the end of life at aged 81, as she reviews her funeral and bemoans the lack of focus on who she’d been earlier in life. Such spirit (no pun intended).

I remember my mum making sure as to put a framed photograph of my Grandma in her 20s on her hospital bedside cabinet. A reminder to all of not who my Grandma, 90, used to be, but who she still was (actually she was always 16 at heart, she often shared with me).

Credit: Camilla Adams

In Norson we meet him on the tip of early onset dementia, his passion and love for life bursting through every pore. He sings, he dances, he makes you smile. Such passion.

Credit: Camilla Adams

In the carers, be they professionals or loved ones, the challenges in preserving the dignity, needs and wishes of the patient/parent/friend can be difficult, distressing and exhausting. And as love, duty, expertise all have valuable parts to play, we must remember that it is a person at the heart of the matter.

But a message is only as effective as its delivery and creativity is delivered in spades.

As focus shifts in turn to individual characters in the play, the talented cast taken on various supporting roles in each scene and setting quite often delivered by way of a beautiful and often comedic display of a Capella song.

There is energy and movement in the scenes, even before, metaphorically speaking, ‘curtain up, as instead of just entering good old Theatre 2, we found ourselves entering, and privy to, life in a care home, as characters came and went, all whilst we were taking our seats and turning off our phones.

It was a moving and thought-provoking 70 minutes but for me, the moment that most touched me was the depiction of the carer speaking gently to Margaret, shortly after she’d passed; explaining the actions he needed to take (I’m just going to put this pillow under your chin, press on your bladder to empty it, remove your jewellery and pass to your daughter as you’d asked…).

Credit: Camilla Adams

And I won’t have been alone in that theatre in hoping that this same respect and compassion will be available to not only our loved ones as they reach the end of their journey (from us included), but to ourselves as well.

If you too want to be both entertained whilst taking some time from the hustle and bustle to have a little think about the fragility of life and what’s important, go and see If You Fall.

There is still chance to catch performances on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 May before the show continues its tour.

Click here on the HOME website for more details and to buy tickets.

Directed by Helena Middleton Conceived and Original Direction by Nir Paldi

Cast: Clive Duncan, Elisabeth Gunawan, Jabari Ngozi, Kirris Riviere, Heather Williams and Robin Paley Yorke

To learn more about Ad Infinitum, and all the talented individuals behind this production, visit the Ad Infinitum website.

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