Writer and performer, Louise Coulthard, tells us why she created a play all about the reality of living with dementia.
I began writing Cockamamy while caring for my grandmother who was living with dementia. I was particularly focused on showing the relationships in such a situation, and how it can bring people together as much as tearing them apart. Although a terrible disease there were many happy times I shared with my Grandma during that time.
Cockamamy opened at The Camden Fringe last year and received a fantastic response. After a sell out run and a 5 star review we were encouraged to take it to The Edinburgh Fringe. We plan to tour the play in spring 2018.
There is a fine balance between tragedy and comedy, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in experiencing both these feelings while caring for someone with dementia. Towards the end gran couldn’t remember too much about the past and wasn’t concerned with her future, and so everything we shared was completely in the present. It was alive and changing from moment to moment. This, although sometimes distressing, was also on occasion exciting, fresh and full of possibilities. We laughed and cried together a lot. The times of light got us through the dark, and I think it’s an incredibly important part of dealing with a family member or friend who has dementia.
This play feels relevant to audiences who both have an experience of dementia, and those who have not. On the one hand, it’s illuminating. On the other, we hope people recognise that they are not alone in their experience of having watched someone they love change beyond recognition. That somehow, in the process of witnessing these characters negotiate this condition, there is a sense that the burden of a carer is shared.
More than anything, this is a story of two people who love each other, the sadnesses and joy that they share, and how humanity prevails through adversity.
Find out more about Cockamamy, including times and ticket prices.