One of the joys of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is what my sister in law refers to as Fringe Roulette, where you just go to all sorts of random things. I spun the barrel today, having just got off the plane and went to a show on the basis that I was handed a flyer (by the person who turned out to be the writer and sole actress in the show, Susie Coreth), it was half price, it was taking place at a time that filled a gap before I had to be elsewhere, and it dealt with subjects that interest me for various reasons, not least dementia and the role of music in unlocking memories.
So at lunchtime today I joined a small audience in a converted shipping container in George Street (it is the fringe) to watch “Ivory Wings” and had the pleasure of watching an actor/writer on top form, painting a poignant picture of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease who had been a WW2 Air Transport Service pilot. It was a performance and script that avoided hackneyed mawkishness, but drew the audience into the story of this woman, past and present. It may be a “one woman show” but, like “The Lehman Trilogy”, which I also recently, the score played live at a piano on stage, was almost a character in it’s own right, with the pianist (the writer’s sister Anna – clearly a talented brood) deserving her curtain call.. However, whilst I understood the choice of the final piece of music, I would have thought another piano piece would have had more internal logic. That said, I won’t go into the details of the show for fear of spoilers in case you are lucky enough to see it.
Given half a chance I would love there to be a performance of it in Northern Ireland. It clearly rang bells with me because of the work my wife, Sally does promoting dementia awareness and coordinating the “Playlist for Life” programme for her organisation, and my own involvement in BCM’s development of the Copelands Dementia Care facility (for which I will be doing a sponsored walk next week), and our use of “Music and Memory.” But it also resonated with the book I am reading at present “The Lewis Man” set in the Hebrides and Edinburgh and, in part telling the story through the fragmented memories of a man with Alzheimer’s. Be it in drama or in literature we need to help people see that those affected by this disease have a story, whether or not it is heroic or traumatic or dramatic, it is still a story that impacted and continues to impact on others and should be honoured.