Tuesday, 31 May 2016
Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse
After seeing Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick, I moved on (after a swift meal) to the Donmar Warehouse, to see Zoe Wanamaker, Barbara Flynn, and Nina Sosanya in Nick Payne's new play, Elegy.
The play is a short one, and not what one could call cheerful.
It posits a near future where diseases such as Alzheimer's can be cured,by removal of the affected parts of the brain, with these being replaced by a form of electronic prosthesis, modelled upon the patient's brain and thus allowing them to retain their character and intelligence, but lacking their memories.
We first meet Wanamaker's Lorna as she is being discharged from hospital, having undergone the treatment and having, as a result, lost all memories of her marriage and 20 year relationship with her wife, Carrie (Barbara Flynn), who, having held Power of Attorney for her wife was the one who ultimately made the choice to try the treatment.
Subsequent scenes flash back, to Lorna and Carrie meeting with the doctor (Sosanya), and as they come to terms, together, with the increasing effects of Lorna's illness.
It's pretty bleak, but all three actors are superb. It's a poignant portrait of love and loss, and while it lacks tension due to the choice to start with the outcome, it's moving, and it does raise some interesting questions about medical consent and indeed, about memory and identity.