By giving physical embodiment to recorded interviews, verbatim theatre creates a remarkably powerful form of communication that is far more intimate than video but still allows for editing and shaping of the raw material into a coherent narrative.
In applying the technique to dementia, Talking House offers a richly informative guide to a seldom discussed topic and shines a light on the quiet heroism of ordinary people who take on the incredibly demanding task of providing care for partners and relatives as they progressively lose the ability to look after themselves.
The six actors use small earphones so the voices they represent are playing in their ears as they speak. Their performances skilfully replicate the idiosyncratic vocal patterns of 17 individuals who have had a personal engagement with dementia or Alzheimer's.
The most compelling stories come from a diverse group of people whose lives have been turned upside down when someone they love slowly disappears through loss of memory and degeneration of mental faculties.
The writing team of Cindy Diver, Susie Lawless and Stuart Young has crafted a poignant and at times amusing narrative that shows how all kinds of people respond to the call to sacrifice part of their own life in order to care for others.
Their experiences give rise to some profound insights on what it means to be human and the extent to which memory defines who we are.
The testimonies deal courageously with the inevitable onset of death as caregivers speak movingly about their understanding of the afterlife and the spark of humanity that persists even when people require assistance to carry out the most basic bodily functions.
What: The Keys Are In The Margarine
Where and when: Aotea Centre Theatre, to August 29