Detailing living with dementia, Louise Coulthard’s Cockamamy at the Hope Theatre proves delicately heartbreaking
“You do remember, don’t you?”
Alice is your cool kinda gran – she likes a swig or two of rum, and she can quote Beyoncé. But she’s also keeping her valuables in the pan drawer, and hiding tins of spam around the house. And she’s struggling to hold onto the details of who she lives with, confusing her granddaughter Rosie for her own daughter, Rosie’s mum.
Such is the world of Cockamamy, a Lustrum Award-winning play by Louise Coulthard, that uses her own experiences to depict the experience of how dementia can affect a household. And as Rosie’s relationship with her gran shifts, it is contrasted with the new connection she’s building with new squeeze Irish doctor Cav, exposing the challenges for both carer and the cared for.
Directed by Rebecca Loudon, Coulthard’s writing is perfectly poised, as it captures all the intimacies and small details that come both from living with someone you love (platonically) and falling in love with someone (not-platonically). And then as she strips them away, through the growing realisation of her gran’s condition and then its rapid onset, Cockamamy proves delicately heartbreaking.
Coulthard also plays Rosie, lending an authority to her impassioned interactions, especially with Mary Rutherford’s Alice, increasingly fragile but still capable of moments of pure joy. If the short running time means the plotting pulls its punches somewhat, they’re complimented well by Rowan Polonski’s Cavan and the whole production is suffused with a loving warmth that mitigates its tragic notes.