Dementia in fact and fiction | Discover

Individual experiences, universal themes

Over the past six years, Matthew has done runs of the show with three different actors playing the role of Jane and “it’s been interesting to see how the play, as an emotional journey, changes depending on [who plays Jane]”.

One actor approached the role of Jane with lots of emotion; one was more reserved, trying to hold back that emotion; and the Jane in the production that I saw sometimes used humour to deflect from more difficult moments. In this way, Jane’s storyline sheds light on the complex and often conflicting emotions associated with caring for someone. There’s no one way to be a carer. Carers may feel hopeless or guilty or angry, or a combination of these, as well as still so full of love for the person they care for, as Jane is for Arthur. And different carers will process these emotions differently.


So many of us have first- or second-hand stories about dementia. And yet it’s not spoken about enough. The raw honesty of the play made it, at times, a very difficult watch. There were moments when I had to look at the floor to stop myself from sobbing, and I could hear other audience members holding back tears around me.

In this way, In Other Words serves as a means for people to open up the conversation around living with dementia and being a carer. Matthew tells me that the post-show conversations he has with audience members are “the main reason that [he doesn’t] want to stop doing the play yet”. People share personal stories, having connected with something in the play.

This was the case for me, too. Although I was a child at the time, I still have vivid memories of my grandma living in the later stages of dementia towards the end of her life. Unfortunately, these are my most recent memories of her. But I’ve made an effort to remind myself of earlier memories of her – when she’d make dressing gowns and ballet skirts for me, when she was stern with me, and when she’d kiss and cuddle me.

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