Review: Demented at the Lyric

Gary Mitchell
Lyric Theatre until 29th May 2014.

Already there is talk of extending this play for an extra week and it’s a good idea because this is a good night and once the word gets around I think the audiences will come.They’ll enjoy a ‘romp’ through a mad cap idea for a bank raid – all in the name of revenge.
Keith (Michael Liebmann) has been knocked down in a car accident. He was on his motorbike minding his own business only to end up a few seconds later without the use of his legs.

Instead of a career and an active life he has become a wheelchair user and he’s bitter, he wants to get back at the man who was driving the car. When the play opens we see him with his girlfriend Felicity (Roisin Gallagher) trying to talk his next door neighbours into helping him with his plan. A good plan as hijacking go but the old man next door has dementia and although his son Andrew (Ian Beattie) tries to explain what’s going to happen, he just can’t grasp it and this results in some very funny sequences.

Then, with the aid of a clever set design we are whisked to another address where Justin, the local bank manager (Richard Orr) lives with his nagging wife Stacy (Jo Donnelly) and their son Joshua (Gavin Peden). It’s not long before it dawns on the audience what the connection is between Justin and Keith, Justin was driving the car that robbed the young man of his hopes, his dreams and his future.

The play takes time to build up to the funniest scene when the entire cast get together in James and Stacy’s kitchen, the ‘bank robber’ confronting the bank boss demanding he goes to work as usual then brings back all the cash in the bank – otherwise dear help his wife and son.

There are so many twists and turns in this story you need to be on your toes but in the end, well you’ll have to go and see for yourself.

The central character is James played by Roy Heayberd who is totally convincing in his confusion, trying to cover his mistakes with a joke, fighting his memory loss. It was probably by coincidence that the play opened on the day a new dementia awareness campaign was launched telling us that one in three people over 65 will suffer this incurable brain disease therefore to trivialise the subject would be unforgivable but throughout Gary Mitchell achieves a feeling of frustration both on the part of the person suffering this brain disease and those around him. I was glad of the little moment at the end of the play when the son bends over his father and gently kisses his forehead showing that, despite that frustration, despite all the plans going awry thanks to James and his dementia, there was still compassion and love.

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