Losing the Plot in a Land of Lost Souls; Theatre

Article excerpt

Byline: HENRY HITCHINGS

REALLY OLD, LIKE FORTY FIVE National's Cottesloe, SE1 **

DEMENTIA is one of the greatest health issues facing us this century -- and one of the most divisive.

Recently, Terry Pratchett has spoken of the contemporary "care burden" caused by Alzheimer's disease, Martin Amis has called for euthanasia booths on street corners, and an Oxford University study has revealed that for every pound spent on dementia research 12 times as much is spent investigating cancer.

Tamsin Oglesby's new play takes a mostly comic view of these concerns. It's set in a dystopian future, where Britain is desperately overcrowded with infirm pensioners. Society is ravaged by Alzheimer's, and citizens when they grow old are invited to move into a care facility called The Ark in return for becoming pawns in medical trials.

The unlovable bureaucrats behind The Ark occupy the upper tier of Lez Brotherston's neat set, devising strategies for dealing with the ageing population. Meanwhile, below them, two elderly sisters and their brother grapple with the indignities of age and the effects of their decline on the rest of their family. …