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REVIEW: A Shadow Of Doubt, Harrogate Theatre

A Shadow Of Doubt by Gill Mcvey

If every day you lost a part of yourself, would you want to go on living?

If you had to watch your loved one slip away bit by bit until they became a shell of themselves, would you be able to cope?

We all know at least one person who has said “If I end up losing my mind, I want to go to Switzerland.” Now it’s easy to say that when you’re not actually in the situation yourself. The truth is that the likes of dementia effects you slowly but surely. You will probably barely even notice how you are changing until it’s too late.

And those are some of the themes that are explored in A Shadow Of Doubt at Harrogate Theatre.

Gill Mcvey in A Shadow Of Doubt

A Shadow Of Doubt is a play written by local actress and playwright, Gill Mcvey, tackling the devastation and destruction of dementia through a blend of emotion and sharp wit.

Using just three characters to tell the compelling story, this is a simple piece of theatre with a powerful message.

A Shadow Of Doubt is about a woman who loses her mother to dementia and then loses her husband not long after. She moves back in with her suffering father and a familiar carer pops in every day to check in on the pair. When dementia rears its head again, their relationship is pushed to breaking point and the carer has to stand by and watch as the family falls apart yet again.

It may sound like a depressing story but it is by no means depressing. Sad, yes. But the emotion is also interspersed with casual humour and genuine affection that lulls you into a false sense of security. But let’s be real, there is no security when dementia is involved.

The plot lines of the characters have all been workshopped by the actors from their own experiences with the dreaded disease, so everything comes from real experience. The actors have also followed the show around for the most part of its run around the North and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival so it is clearly a play with a message that they are keen to share.

Chris Rawson in A Shadow Of Doubt

All three actors, Sue Rawson, Chris Rawson, and playwright Gill Mcvey herself, were wonderful. When you have such a small cast you are totally reliant on everybody being as strong as each other in order for the piece to be carried. Luckily all three actors were fantastic; truly believable and emotive performances all round.

The set design is simple and effective with a lone table and three chairs centre stage, house walls that are crumbling and breaking away like the pieces of the characters’ minds, and the sands of time run empty in the background. Not to mention many, many cups of tea are used as props. The simple set allows the attention to be spent on the three characters as we learn their stories and watch as they attempt to cope while dementia robs them of everything they know.

If you know someone or have personally been affected by dementia, this play may be hard to watch but it could also be cathartic. The subject is handled sensitively and effectively to raise awareness of dementia and the heartbreak it leaves behind. A beautifully compelling piece of theatre with a powerful message.

Sue Rawson in A Shadow Of Doubt

A Shadow Of Doubt is on at Harrogate Theatre this week from 11-13 February at 7.45pm and tickets are only £10. Running time is just short of an hour, so you have absolutely no reason not to take the time to see this touching play. Get your tickets from Harrogate Theatre website.