Cockamamy

Cockamamy is an adjective meaning ludicrous or nonsensical. For Alice, a woman suffering from dementia, it is more than a high scoring word on an episode of Countdown. Living with her granddaughter, Rosie, this word acts as a means of describing what is happening to her. Despite a few flaws, Cockamamy is a compelling, emotive and powerful piece of theatre.

A beautifully written portrayal of the effect of dementia both on Alice and on the people by whom she is surrounded.

Cockamamy’s writer, Louise Coulthard, also plays the role of Rosie. The script pays special attention to the relationship between the Grandmother and Granddaughter who, for a long time, have only had each other. Prior to Alice’s degradation they worked well together, a team who learned from each other and helped each other despite the generation gap. Mary Rutherford, playing Alice, embodies the role of an old woman who has her wits about her at first, and throughout the play becomes more and more confused. She portrays this illness with poise and grace, making it clear that Alice’s dignity, even at her worst, is the most important thing for her.

Rosie is constantly asked by her grandmother whether she has “met any nice boys”. At the beginning of this play she has, explaining the term ‘seeing someone’ to Alice, and telling her about Calvin. Calvin, a doctor played by Imran Momen, comes into Rosie’s life just as her grandmother is beginning to become confused. Momen also plays the role of Alice’s late husband in several hallucinations. This is confusing for an audience to watch, as at times he is in costume and at other times he is not.

Though it is difficult to fault the actor’s performances in Cockamamy, a merit to the direction of Rebecca Loudon, it is unfortunately technically flawed. The music, though well-chosen and representative of Alice’s youth, is far too loud at key points, drowning out the actors. There is also heavy reliance on props and costume changes to signify time passing. Due to nature of the script, this is unnecessary, slowing down the pace at key moments.

Though there were some technical issues and unclear scenes, this is a raw, honest and insightful play. It is powerfully and triumphantly performed by the actors, reducing most of the audience to tears. Overall, Cockamamy is a beautifully written portrayal of the effect of dementia both on Alice and on the people by whom she is surrounded.

Reviews by Angela O'Callaghan

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Cockamamy. Adj. Ludicrous or nonsensical. Alice and her granddaughter Rosie are a team. They live together, eat together, watch Countdown together. Until things start to become ludicrous. Nonsensical. Cockamamy is a heartbreaking, hilarious story about companionship that explores the reality of living with dementia. A compelling new play, this sell-out show previewed at The Camden Fringe Festival last year. ‘A modern day Glass Menagerie... Sincere, heart-warming, compassionate’ (TheOpenDoorSite.wordpress.com).

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