A sturdy tweed jacket hangs on a coat hanger, overlooking the sparse stage. There is an aged floral armchair and an end table with a decanter of what looks like brandy. Ella, the play’s elderly protagonist and only actor soon appears onstage and starts her 55-minute monologue. Uneasy and guilt-ridden, Ella punctuates her truthful narrative with frequent wincing sips from the bottle of brandy.
Particularly at the Fringe, where there is an abundance of attention-grabbing performances, Tell Me Your Secrets and I’ll Shout Them Out didn’t really stand out.
Tell Me Your Secrets and I’ll Shout Them Out is a truthful portrayal of what it’s like to live with someone with dementia. The sturdy tweed jacket, we soon find out, belongs (or belonged?) to George, Ella’s husband who suffered from dementia. Ella recounts anecdotes of George going missing, his inability to control his bowels, his affair with a woman in the village. The stories told seem honest, but lack originality, preventing the monologue from being truly convincing. Some of the lines just seem a little cliché.
The characterisation of Ella is, however, more convincing. She is both guilt-ridden and furious at her husband. She wants him dead, but feels tormented over the decision to send him to a care home. She allows moments of humour amidst the scenes of sadness. The play movingly studies the large range of emotions you might feel when caring for someone you love; it asks you to consider the difficulties someone like Ella has to face.
Still, the play never really reaches the climax that it could. There are not enough changes in pace, enough twists and turns, enough surprises. As a one-woman show there needed to be more intensity to maintain the audience’s attention. Particularly at the Fringe, where there is an abundance of attention-grabbing performances, Tell Me Your Secrets and I’ll Shout Them Out didn’t really stand out.