Not only does he deal with time, but he also deals with his fears. Gaetano tells us (as his current self) that he is scared of: sharks, psycho killers, being disappointing to his parents as a single, gay, unemployed man (even though his parents love him), dying single and memories fading. Gaetano, as himself, is my favourite character. He is real, engaging, captivating on stage, funny and has us nodding along in agreement, especially at the accidental insensitivity of the one size fits all 80th birthday message from Julia Gillard.
We meet the elderly gay couple and their love story is revealed through memories both told and reenacted, both sides by Gaetano. Dementia attacks one half of the couple, and the heartache is real. The portrayal of the descent to death is graphic, with the slow shuffling movements and being seated, staring without seeing anything. The soundtrack of their story is a haunting wind that feels ever more cold and powerful.
The play ends with Gaetano trying to pick up and carry the many keys that lined the floor as part of the set and have been flung around by whirling feet throughout the play. It’s an act of desperation, a pointless exercise as the keys spray out of his fingers, there’s just too many. Symbolic of many things in the play, these keys were symbolic of the many things going on in the play, many of which slipped through Gaetano’s grasp. The acting while fantastic in the dark emotional moments, felt overdone in the child, leading to less childlike joy and more ridiculous. There were so many storylines and characters that at times it felt somewhat of a hastily thrown together concept.
The play is a tangled web of love and loss and how we deal with it all, with memories which both hurt and heal. I came away from the play feeling sad and somewhat confused as to the message portrayed. Are we to feel that we to should be scared of dying alone or that we should also be scared of losing our memories? Or are we to feel the hopelessness of love when you only lose it through death anyway. A dark portrayal of a possible future, based on the experience of a real dementia loss, combined with light playful moments to ensure we enjoy parts along the way, makes this play an interesting take on life and love. Take someone with you that you can talk to about it afterwards.