Descent

Good theatre should make you feel something and by that definition alone, this was great theatre. Descent is production which is not only beautifully and skilfully made, but endlessly moving to watch. It’s an absolute gem hidden in the basement of the newly refurbished Rose Theatre. However, it is far from easy watching, the subject line is heavy and will hit close to home for a lot of people.

Descent is a real credit to the new writing scene in Scotland.

The story follows a middle-aged man’s journey as he develops dementia and his family’s attempts to cope with this. It explores the different ways people respond to difficult situation as well as the concept of grieving for someone who isn’t dead. His wife is determined that he will stay with her in their home and that she will be the one to look after him, all the while coming to terms with losing the man he no longer is. Their daughter has a more pragmatic approach which causes tension between the two women.

The charity Alzheimer’s Society states that 850,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia. Sadly this mean that many audience members will be able to relate to this family's story in a very real way.

Linda Duncan McLaughlin provides the strongest of backbones to this production with an unquestionably phenomenal script. It draws a perfect balance between the poetic and the ordinary, allowing for moments of high-impact profundity whilst still retaining a slice-of-life naturalistic feel. But, of course, a script is nothing without performers who can deliver it, and these actors certainly deliver. You can feel the soul poured into every line by all three stunning performers. If you are looking for some high quality acting then this is truly a play to see. Descent is a real credit to the new writing scene in Scotland. If there was a negative word to say about this hugely powerful production it is that perhaps it may be too upsetting for some audience members. I spent around half of the duration of the performance sobbing and I certainly was not the only one. It’s a difficult watch but a worthwhile one, and anyway that’s what great theatre does – it makes you feel something. 

Reviews by Gillian Bain

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘If you love someone you stick by them, no matter what happens. Because that’s the deal. Isn’t it?’ 50-somethings Rob and Cathy are reclaiming their own lives now that daughter Nicola is grown-up and settled; but looming over them is a threat that could rip their future apart. Descent explores what happens as they fight with courage, hope and humanity to hold on to each other – and themselves – in the face of early onset dementia. Nominated Best New Play, CATS Awards 2016 ‘Powerful and heart-breaking’ ****(Scotsman). ‘Touchingly perceptive’ ****(Herald). ‘Captivating’ ****(List). ‘A must-see!’ *****(MumbleTheatre.net).

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