Theatre review – Spillikin

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.

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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.

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One thought on “Theatre review – Spillikin”

  1. Went to see this show tonight in Plymouth, was a very moving play and thought the robot was a brilliantant idea. I used to be a care assistant and delt with dementia but I now need to use a wheel chair, being ill and on your own can be a lonely and scary experience and not many people can afford to have someone to be with you 24/7. I have a cat who I talk to regularly, but to have someone who can answer you back and distract you from your anxieties is a fantastic idea especially as this robot would have all your memories stored to remind you. I know some people were uncomfortable with the thought of having a robot as a companion, but I would say to these people imagine being with someone for 50 years and retired for 10 years where the only person you see is your husband and that person dies. To have someone who knows all your memories and who will never sleep, never leave you, and who will be there just for you would be a great comfort. No they would not replace the husband but it would be a comfort from you just to have something there to distract your mind and to give comfort. I want to thank you spilkin producers and writers for bringing this play to the public to educate people on how much people with illnesses have to cope with on a day to day basis and I for one would give my right arm to have a robot like that
    thank you

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