In Other Words tracks the relationship of Jane and Arthur – a couple devoted to one another but heartbreakingly affected when Arthur is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As his condition degenerates, it seems the only thing able to bring him out of his condition temporarily and evoke memories of the distant past is Frank Sinatra’s music: the soundtrack to their first encounter with one another.
Jane is forced with the reality of her relationship’s metamorphosis; slowly but surely undergirding the ties of love with those of responsibility. Angela Hardie is as convincing as heart-breaking in her negotiation of such an unchartered emotional terrain. Her unassuming relatability serves to confront the audience with their own rhetoric potential – forcing them to place themselves in the situation and to consider their own approach.
Matthew Seager’s script is nuanced and moving; excellently portraying the emotional rhetoric that surrounds the medical diagnosis, both for Arthur and Jane – both affected but equally alone because of it. He is similarly impressive in his portrayal of Arthur, and effortlessly manipulates the demarcated boundaries of chronology to present Arthur in many stages of life.
There is a hollow beauty to the moments in which Frank Sinatra’s music plays, when Will Alder and Iida Aino’s lighting design starkly represents a change in narrative – taking us back to Jane and Arthur’s early days together, before the diagnosis of MCI (mild cognitive impairment) challenged their future together. As their demeanour changes, we are allowed to get to know the individuals on their own terms: separated from the labels of the disease that too often works to define people. It is a true testament to the power of music, and the ways in which memory and understanding are articulated.
Though pacing sometimes has the tendency to err on the side of over-indulgence, In Other Words is an emotive exploration of the intricacies of Alzheimer’s disease; fleshing out its stereotypes with the lived, social experiences of its victims.