White Bear Theatre, London – until 12 June 2021
The first of two press night for the White Bear’s latest production Take Off Your Cornflakes saw Mark Lockyer leave the stage to rapturous applause. After performing to sell-out audiences across Ireland in 2019, the play is currently making its UK premiere.
London bus driver Tom (Lockyer) begins his journey of early-onset dementia in an upbeat, comedic manner keen to reassure his wife Trish that he isn’t going to be beaten by this. However, at the young age of 53, this cruel disease slowly ebbs away at his memory during the 60-minute performance.
Fulfilling the two roles alongside one another is outstanding. Trish’s character is depicted by a slight rise in Lockyer’s tone of voice and subtle feminine mannerisms which allows the audience to follow whose monologue is centre stage at any one time. We follow the couple’s up and downs in a compassionate and heartfelt performance as this cruel condition takes over and destroys their world.
The abstract patchwork stage setting is a touch of genius in my opinion. Each of these patches has been stitched together off centre characterising fragments of how Tom’s memories return to him in sections during his clearer moments. Piecing together the life he once lived which is decreasing fast.
As Lockyer delivers an outstanding performance as husband and wife Tom and Trish, we understand how dementia is affecting their life and relationship through the couple’s correspondence to their long-standing friends who have moved to Australia. The couple explaining separately how their lives are changing beyond recognition.
Take off Your Cornflakes was originally set on the buses in Dublin by writers Rose Henderson and Pat Nolan when it was first performed at the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2017. Lockyer’s idea to adapt and place Tom on the iconic big red London buses brings this incredible play to a new audience.
Director Michael Kingsbury has brought to stage a compassionate love story. From his eye for detail in the fantastic patchwork staging to the dual roles played by Lockyer all come together to take the audience on an emotional and educational journey into the heartbreaking world of dementia, through the eyes of the patient and the loved ones left alone to watch helplessly as the symptoms of dementia take hold and destroy their daily lives.
Productions and performances such as these remind me why I passionately support the Fringe Theatres. Please use the link below for further information and to book tickets.