Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is the leading cause of death in England and Wales. There is no preventative medicine available to restrict its inevitable progression. Pip Utton’s latest play explores the effects of the disease on those who suffer and the ones they leave behind.
And Before I Forget I Love You, I Love You opens with a eulogy. Michael is the grieving husband celebrating the life of the wife he adored. It is a vivid, teary portrait, bursting with love, but Utton gradually exposes the anger and frustration too – having to watch his once vibrant wife deteriorate before his very eyes. Then all too cruelly the audience are the observers, helpless to intercede as gradually his own independence fails.
It’s a painfully expressive piece as stage by stage the memory weakens and motor functions fail. Utton, who draws on personal experience, articulates this decline with absolute honesty and intelligence. Finally we arrive at another eulogy, which fills in the gaps of Michael’s final months. It’s a richly human story, laced with unexpected humour and a message to seize the day. This may be Utton’s 25th Edinburgh Fringe, but his ability to hold an audience shows no sign of abating.