Forgetting Heledd - Camden Fringe Review
Updated: Sep 28, 2019
You enter the theatre to see one woman pacing the stage that’s scattered with photos along with photos hanging from lights on the back wall. A simple set up to complex play which takes you along a rollercoaster of emotions.
“Forgetting Heledd’ is a one woman show about a woman dealing with the impact on her life when her mother is diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Her entire life changes as she has to reassess her plans for the future so she is able to care for her mother and the play takes us through this, her emotions and she deals with it. It’s a story about how she takes on that responsibility and how she finds the strength she needs.
The Heledd of the title is played by Hannah Dando in what can only be described as a masterclass of acting in an engaging and moving performance. The character has a complex mix of love and resentment that comes through loud and clear. Despite describing herself as a “coward” and an “evil bitch” there is a selflessness about her and you’re left wondering if she is strong or fragile. Hannah carries the entire show and there wasn’t any misstep. Her comic timing was spot on bringing a great amount of levity outside the tender moments. Also impressive, at times she embodies other characters and you see the women she meets with dementia and how it impacts them.
It is a beautifully written piece of theatre full of comedy and heart. The comedy is particularly evident at the beginning and Hannah had the audience in hysterics as she describes everything wrong with Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”. But the play gets darker with fewer laughs as her life changes and this is reflected in the lighting. The production is a great display of what can happen when the team all complement each other. The director Samara Gannon clearly understood what the writer Rhys Edwards wanted to show and this is ably complemented with the sound and lighting design. With a different director they may have tried to focus only on the hard parts of her life but without the comedy the emotion would be gone.
This is a difficult topic to address but Rhys Edwards has managed it in this heartfelt production. This gets a 4 star Laura Michelle-Kelly rating.
It was a great way to start the Camden Fringe and you can catch it again on August 5th at Camden’s People’s Theatre.