Theatre Review: Still Alice, Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

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Image Source: Playhouse Theatre

Written By: Carole Bayley

Format: Play
Genre: Drama
Date: November 6 2018
Location: Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

Still Alice is based on the book of the same name written by Lisa Genova. The book has been made into a film with the starring roles being played by Juliette Moore and Alec Baldwin. So, the play was expected to be a good one, and it was.

Still Alice is an extremely moving story about Alzheimer’s. The play is a heartbreaking narrative about Alice, who is an intelligent linguistics professor, a wife, and a mother of two grown-up children. Alice (played by Sharon Small) begins to forget her words and train of thoughts, and is subsequently diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. The first signs of the illness become apparent from her disorientation when out running. She tries desperately not to give in to the illness. Independence is important to her, and she fights her mind to stay in control for as much, and as long, as she can before she will be catapulted to the life of Alzheimer frustrations. Her ‘mind’ is superbly played by Eva Pope – an excellent media to portray the inner thoughts and emotions of Alice.

The play also depicts some of the feelings and effects that Alzheimer’s disease has upon the husband and family. As the disease can sometimes be hereditary, the children were tested for gene mutation. We were taken through a whirlwind of emotions, with tenderness and sentiments abound with gentle atmospheric music used sparingly to enhance scenes even further.

Many of us have, in one way or another, been affected by Alzheimer’s, which can commonly cause dementia. It is such a tough topic for some people, and it was quite difficult to watch in some parts. Still Alice brings to the forefront the real issues experienced by the sufferer and life-changing events which this awful disease throws out.

There are such exquisite performances by the whole cast, and particular praise to Sharon Small who played the part of Alice superbly. You could hear a pin drop in several of the more poignant scenes.

The theatre is not too big, and the benefit of this is that I was quite up close and personal, which I found to be of great advantage as I could clearly see the facial expressions and emotions being acted out beautifully by the cast.

The only criticism I have is for the lack of a microphone. I know stage actors prefer not to be ‘miked up’, but the audience coughing and opening of sweet wrappers prevented me from hearing bits of the quieter dialogue. However, this did not take anything away from my overall enjoyment of the play.

Overall, Still Alice is an outstanding performance.

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding