I’m not a theatre critic, I’m a Music Detective. So I was intrigued when I was invited to take part in two nights of post-show Q&As in a London Theatre.

I’m writing this on the train home….. glad of the time to reflect. The Q&As with members of the audience were fascinating and it’s been a thought-provoking and inspiring two days. A huge think you to the theatre company Off the Middle who produced ‘In Other Words” the debut work of Matt Seager, who also stars as Arthur.

Off the Middle programme

The play tells the story of the fifty year relationship between Arthur and his wife Jane played by Celeste Dodwell

Arthur and Jane

In the first few minutes we see Arthur and Jane meeting for the first time and a ‘red wine incident.’ An apology is made…. a rebuff … an apology …. And finally accepted, to a dance, an embrace, the start of a love affair. 

That first dance was to a song that Arthur and Jane both loved. It was Sinatra singing ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ (hence ‘In Other Words’). It became their song; the theme tune to their love affair. Each time they heard it they were both taken back to their first meeting and ‘the red wine incident.’

It became their song

During the course of the play we watch as Arthur develops dementia and the couples love story was turning into a tragedy’  of those living with dementia to borrow a well-kent phrase from my good friend Tommy Whitelaw (@tommyNtour), a tireless campaigner giving voice for the reality of those living and caring for people with dementia.

But the play shows how even through the difficult times (and there were many familiar one’s portrayed), when their song was heard you could see and feel the couples love for each other pouring back in. 

It reminded me strongly of the true story of Harry and Margaret, the first couple I worked with as a Music Detective. “Listening to his music together let me fall in love with him all over again’ said Margaret

Towards the end of the play when Arthur seems lost to Jane and indeed himself; when understandable language is deserting him when he hears that tune he is able to find the words to say to Jane, “it was red wine, wasn’t it?” A memory, seemingly lost, restored. The tragedy returning to a love story.

Shakespeare wrote In Twelfth Night for Duke Orsino “If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it.” Orsino is asking for more music because Countess Olivia is not responding to his advances and he hopes that an excess of music might cure his obsession with Olivia.

 We on the other hand shout GIVE US EXCESS OF IT, as we know that so many love stories like Arthur and Jane; so many love stories in families, can be supported by something as simple as personally meaningful music. 

The play was wonderful and the actors portrayal fabulous and honest. It for me validated that what Playlist for Life is trying to do is right.

Thank you, Off the Middle!

Thank you Matt, Celeste and Stephanie and all others involved. I look forward to you bringing the play to the regions outside of London.

The Music Detective.