Grey Matter was written & directed by Jamie Dunsdon and co-written by Mallory Gallant. It is a psychological thriller where the main character Lila, a 25 year old lady, tells us the story of her 90 year old Grandma and the battle they are both facing with her dementia. As Grandma is suffering with the illness, Lila struggles with the prospect of losing someone she once was so close with, but who no longer recognizes her. A story most people can relate to one way or another and an interesting topic to tackle on stage.
Studio 16 is quite a lovely venue; small and personal with no obvious barrier between the audience and the stage. This helps you truly experience and almost share the feeling of confusion, frustration, anger and loss the characters felt as they carried us through the story.
The cast, a talented trio – Samantha Duff (as Lila), Helen Knight (as Woman) and Paul Welch (as Man), played to a small crowd on this opening night but their performance was professional, precise and a delight to watch. Helen and Paul were exceptional at quickly switching from character to character with the flick of a switch and flicker of a light bulb and even the way in which they moved their bodies at parts with such control and fluidity added to the visual feast that was this production. Minimal props were used all of which sat on stage from start to finish and the recycling of props for different uses was brilliant. I enjoyed all 3 actors perform, but I have to say I found exceptional joy watching Helen switch character, going from old Grandma to young Alice and a screaming reflection, executing every character without breaking a sweat or mixing any of the characters together – she is a very skilled artist and a great talent but again, all three gave exceptional performances.
As the play was only an hour long, the time flew by and everyone’s eyes were fixated on the 3 cast members every move – their words and their silences. I really enjoyed Duff’s story telling ability (a true art in its self) and followed with ease the events on stage as they unfolded. The use of light and sound was exceptional, the Alice in wonderland references inspired. I am chomping at the bit to tell you the ins and outs, all the highs and lows – but alas I won’t. I am a fright for ruining a good story when I enjoy it as much as I did this one. Even though I would love to share more of the story line, I shall restrain myself. This play is a fascinating snap shot into what one can only imagine it must be like to live inside the brain of someone suffering from this illness.
If I had to find a negative to the evening it would be that the audience was far too small, more people need to see this show and appreciate the wonderful efforts of both cast and crew. Welch ended his bow by asking the audience to spread the word like the clap (pun intended of course) and that is what I shall do.
All I can say to you is go see this production, fall down the rabbit hole and prepare to lose yourself in this tangled web of true life meets fairy tale, which will have you on tenderhooks from start to finish.
Click here to view Grey Matter showing times.