Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Alzheimer That Ends Heimer

Heart is not enough...
by Beat Rice

Alzheimer That Ends Heimer is writer Jay Teitel's song for his father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s in his last years. He narrates the play with anecdotes about his father and his family and steps into the action that three young actors are playing as two young lovers and a goddess, who is the personification of confusion. 

Teitel admits to us at the beginning that he is not an actor. The fact becomes very obvious very quickly. Even with all of his commitment and heart, Teitel’s nervous shifting is distracting and his voice stayed at one level for the entire piece. The show is amateurish and confusing, and does not hit anywhere emotionally. We need to know why his father’s Alzheimer’s is different and special enough to be made into a play to be presented to the public. That way we can feel. Alzheimer’s has been a known disease for a while, and the symptoms are common knowledge, so tales of forgetting directions and not being able to recognize a loved one is not a new one. 

The two young actors in the roles of lovers Sue and George (Kathryn Davis and Ben Irvine) have wonderful singing voices and really do make an effort with the clumsy dialogue they were given. During scenes between Dementieva (Amy  Rutherford) and Teitel, Davis and Irvine hold extended tableaus centre stage while Teitel and Rutherford continue their scene in and around them. The staging did not make sense-Teitel was delivering the most interesting and personal stories about his father from far stage right while these young actors were frozen in the middle. 

I have mixed feelings about those who do what they say they are not. Would you pay to go to a concert to see someone who was passionate about music but couldn’t play an instrument very well? Passion is important, but so is skill. Personal life stories are interesting, but it is a good writer and a theatrical performer  that can make the story resonate with an audience. Unfortunately, with all its good intention, Alzheimer That Ends Heimer fails to do that.

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