Views & Reviews Review

“The illness is the side story”

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 21 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6970
  1. Anne Taylor, freelance writer and lecturer in journalism, University College Falmouth
  1. anne.taylor{at}

A play about dementia impressed Anne Taylor, most notably because the story of the person rather than the illness shone through

Simon Turley wrote this play, about a 63 year old man with Lewy body dementia, for performance in the steamy Tropical Biome at Cornwall’s Eden Project. This venue, he says, offered “another world—an incontestable otherness” in which to situate the production. He even renamed the biome “Patrick’s head.”

It is a testament to the playwright’s ability and to the consummate performance of Timothy Block (who played Patrick) that when bad weather and floods hit Eden and the production was decamped to the wintery environment of the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan for its first performance the location became irrelevant.

“If the play succeeds, I think its audience will feel part of Patrick’s hallucination,” wrote Turley in advance of the production. For me the play went beyond this benchmark. I came home feeling not just as if I had spent an hour watching Patrick but as if I knew him. I …

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