Can there be a more rewarding artistic medium than live theatre?
I love a good movie. Occasionally there’s something interesting and thought-provoking on TV….Damilola last night was certainly an emotionally engaging experience. And of course reading a good book is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
But watching live theatre – particularly in a small, intimate venue – engages the senses more completely, perhaps, than anything else. And seeing Spillikin tonight at The Firestation Arts Centre in Windsor certainly left no emotional stone unturned.
Sally has Alzheimer’s. Her husband Raymond, a genius and academic, is away at a co-co-co-co-conference. A colleague of Raymond’s has just installed a robot with Sally, to keep her company.
Of course it’s soon clear that Raymond is dead. But his love for Sally ran so deep that he has programmed the robot with his own memories, to ensure Sally is not alone as she spirals further into confusion and isolation.
As Sally gets to know and engage with the robot – now Raymond – the story of their real life is movingly played out by two younger actors alongside them on stage.
This emotionally charged drama, written by Jon Welch and produced by the innovative Pipeline Theatre company, raises so many questions about love, loss, betrayal, memory, dementia, caring – and Artificial Intelligence! – that a Q&A session after the play, with the writer and the cast, barely begins to blow away any clouds.
But that’s the beauty of theatre. Interpret it as you will. Which is likely to be different from everyone else.
Huge thanks to friends Jonny & Laura Lees for letting us see Spillikin with them. And to Will Jackson, the robot maker, as well as the writer, cast and crew. A brilliant and thought-provoking experience.