Revived for Brighton Fringe after a well-received run at the Old Red Lion in 2014, the Dot Collective’s Brainville at Night, staged to coincide with Dementia Action Week, is a sensitive and moving production.
Revisiting their original roles, Illona Linthwaite and Robert Hickson as long-married couple Sven and Ingrid beautifully capture the frustrations and indignities dementia brings with it. They are supported by a strong cast: Carys Wright as the tightly-wound daughter with problems of her own, Sophie Dora-Hall and Eddie Usher deftly doing double duty as carers and in the neon-lit flashbacks, and Julia Faulkner as Ingrid’s outspoken friend.
At times the tensions threaten to overflow – a scene where everyone is pressuring an increasingly anxious Ingrid to get dressed is hard to watch. But writer Alexander Moschos (a former carer) recognises the dark humour in the absurdity of the disease – an uninhibited Ingrid gleefully reliving her youthful sexual freedom – and the fault-lines of tenderness it exposes, whether in the gently pragmatic assistance of her carers, or her husband’s insistence on preserving whatever small aspects of her dignity he can.
Matthew Parker directs the time-shifting action with flair, and though not every flight of fancy works, the piece tackles a tough subject with imagination and heart.