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.