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Tour de force portrayal of dementia

Compton Players: Bothered and Bewildered, at the Village Hall,
from Wednesday, November 20, to Saturday, November 23

REVIEW BY YVETTE CASTER

LOSS and love were studied onstage in The Compton Players’ moving, funny and ultimately heartbreaking performance of Bothered and Bewildered. The play centres around widow and mum Irene and her worsening dementia. Her daughters Beth (Brenda Prior) and Louise (Mary Warrington) rally to support her, but struggle to cope both practically and emotionally as they
lose their mother before their very eyes. While the subject matter wasimportant and doubtless painfully familiar to many, the play was not a gloom fest thanks, in part, to the addition of Barbara Cartland, Irene’s favourite author and her imaginary companion. Ann Griffiths clearly had fun as bombastic Barbara, bedecked in shimmering pink and delivering not very helpful, but often amusing, pearls of wisdom with an air of total confidence and authority.

Liz Saxton was an absolute triumph as Irene. The whole cast did a good job, but it was her utterly convincing portrayal of a woman living between the present and the past that was most discussed by the audience as we left.

Of the more minor roles, Alan Johnson was every bit the doctor – as well he should be (according to the programme he has worked in this field). The put-upon sisters were also very watchable, they had great chemistry and jostled along like real siblings. The piece was very well paced and, although props were kept to a minimum and wardrobe was fairly basic it was all quite sufficient. One small criticism would be that the black paint around the stage itself could do with a fresh coat.
Really, given that this was an amateur performance in a small village hall, Bothered and Bewildered was quite exceptional and the whole cast and crew involved in this should be very proud of themselves. It isn’t often that these subjects are tackled in such a measured way, raising awareness without being preachy or overdramatic, and raising laughs to balance the seriousness of the theme.



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