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All But Gone review at the Other Room, Cardiff – ‘refreshingly hopeful’

The cast of All But Gone at the Other room, Cardiff. Photo: Kieran Cudlip The cast of All But Gone at the Other room, Cardiff. Photo: Kieran Cudlip

The question of whether forbidden love can survive the ravages of dementia places Matthew Trevannion’s new play squarely at the centre of the Other Room’s Lovesick season.

Young tearaway Kai (an excellent Callum Hymers) breaks into a Valleys home but is confronted by Owen, a tough septuagenarian with a rifle. The encounter throws Owen, played with real delicacy by Wyn Bowen Harries, into a spiral of memories, his past and present simultaneously colliding and co-existing throughout this ambitious play.

For All But Gone, Trevannion returns to his native Pontypool, a community defined by its steel industry but now equally scarred by its decline, a situation analogous with Owen’s own fading state. Owen’s worsening Alzheimer’s is debilitating but also strangely liberating in allowing him to revisit his unresolved past, at the heart of which is old friend Howell and a stand-out performance by Daniel Graham.

This is Dan Jones’ first production following his appointment as the Other Room’s artistic director and he steers us skilfully between the different time periods and the vagaries of Owen’s muddled memory.

Carl Davies’ ambitiously weighty design, set within the venue’s tiny auditorium, places the audience virtually at the kitchen table. However, it’s Joe Fletcher’s lighting that not only adds warmth to the play, but also provides the clarity within a complex narrative.

While never dodging the tragic inevitability of Alzheimer’s, All But Gone still offers a refreshingly hopeful conclusion as the relationship between Owen and young Kai comes full circle.

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Verdict
Refreshingly uncynical exploration of the tragedy of lost love and the enduring hope of survival
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