At Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago
Moving look at the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease on a family
Based on Lisa Genova’s novel, Still Alice, Christine Mary Dunford’s stage adaptation puts a face on an individual and a family struggling with the destructive effects of Alzheimers disease. Alice Howland (Eva Barr) and her husband, John (Christopher Donahue) are professors at Northwestern University. Both are at their career zenith as each are among the finest scholars in their fields. They have two group children, Thomas (Cliff Chamberlain) and Lydia (Joanne Dubach). This family is very middle class, very intellectual, and very loving and supportive. Alice and John are in their early 50’s each with a flourishing career. Things are going great until Alice starts to forget simple things.
We see Alice and her alter-ego – Herself (Mariann Mayberry) as they gradually realize that something is happening to her memory and her cognitive abilities. Could it be menopause or what? As things grow worse and Alice’s laps become obvious, John, always the loving husband, stands by Alice as her takes her to Doctor Davis (David Kersnar), a neurologist who specializes in dementia and other memory problems. After weeks of testing, there is no doubt as to what is happening to Alice. It’s Alzheimer’s disease. While John is hopeful, Alice and Herself realize the truth.
Alice and Herself struggle and fight the memory lapses. John and the children are supportive as the struggle continues. One of the most powerful insights in this marvelous play is the inter reaction as we get into the mind of Alice through Herself as Mariann Mayberry vividly expresses
Alice’s inter thoughts. Eva Barr is most electrifying as she slowly morphs into the shocked Alzheimer’s sufferer. Barr’s facial expression combine panic with total bewilderment. She give a heartfelt and honest performance. Christopher Donahue is quite effective as the loving. loyal husband..
Alice Still is an important and most pertinent drama that presents the lingering effects of Alzheimer’s on a family, especially a 50something person in their prime of life. It is filled with compassion, humor and humanity with razor-sharp clarity. How the disease affects each family member is plausibly presented. Audiences will appreciate a fresh look at this terrible disease as it demonstrates that Alzheimer’s is not only a senior disease. It also mentions a test to see if one has the gene, that may be worth knowing about. This is a emotionally draining and thoroughly engaging play that is a “must see’ theatrical event.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: April 20, 2013
For more info checkout the Still Alice page at theatreinchicago.com
At Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL, call 312-337-0665,www.lookingglasstheatre.org, tickets $36 – $70,Tuesdays thru Sundays at 7:30 pm, matinees on Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays at 3 pm, running time is one hour,50 minutes without intermission, through May 19, 2013