All Change

All Change is a short, minimalistic play about old age, dementia and father-daughter relationships. With a static set and a cast of just two, it largely relies on the quality of its script and acting to achieve the desired poignancy. While the performance often managed to evoke a sense of pity for its characters – not to mention anxiety at what the future might have in store – it too often strayed into cliché to be altogether satisfying.

Ivor is quick to anger and quick to joy, unable to remember his own emotional state. He cannot look after himself, let alone his daughter, and lives in a house as cluttered as his own mind.

The two characters are Ivor and his long-suffering daughter, Lily. Ivor has dementia and lives alone in his decrepit family home, surrounded by keepsakes and souvenirs whose significance he struggles to remember. To help him cope, he imagines that his late wife Grace is still alive, but all we see is her outfit hanging limply from the hatstand – an uncanny reminder of her enduring significance.

Ivor is quick to anger and quick to joy, unable to remember his own emotional state. He cannot look after himself, let alone his daughter, and lives in a house as cluttered as his own mind. Except for the hairs on his chest and the years on his clock, Ivor is like a child, and it can be hard to watch his frequent displays of infantilism.

The play features a series of flashbacks to explore Ivor and Lily’s past, when they were happier and their natural roles were in place. This technique is highly effective, working to break up the main action, satisfy the audience’s curiosity and provide insight into the dynamic of their relationship. It also allows you to see Ivor before his descent into senility, when his identity was less fractured, less fragmented.

All Change certainly succeeds in making you think about these issues, but sometimes it is too obvious what it is trying to make you think. The motifs of trains and broken watches are almost patronising reminders about the passage of time and encourage you to digest the play a bit too quickly, but – given the morbidity of its themes – maybe that’s for the best.

Reviews by Joshua Feldman

Marlborough Theatre

The Room in the Elephant

★★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

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★★★★
The Warren: Main House

Animal Farm

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Brainchild

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Everything That's Wrong with the Universe

★★★★
The Dukebox Theatre

All Change

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A poignant comedy. "A thoughtful play, taking challenging issues and making them richly entertaining” The Herald. Ivor waits, his train of thought broken by fragmented memory. His daughter Lily packs his things as she prepares him for life in a ‘home’. The moment her back is turned, he unpacks… Confusion reigns as misunderstandings multiply. Ivor won’t go quietly…