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Award winning playwright Martha Loader’s latest play is on a UK tour. Presented by Play Nicely Theatre, ‘Splinter’ movingly depicts the story of a couple facing memory loss and its impact on their lifelong relationship.

Jac has taken Maggie away to Norfolk on a surprise trip. Jac is hoping that bringing Maggie to where she grew up might help her to find herself again. Maggie hasn’t felt herself in a while, she’s tired a lot, she feels she is all normal but only eighty percent normal.

The audience is taken back in time. Maggie is a character, full of energy, a free spirit, and is passionate about women in history and how they have impacted the world. In fact, she calls herself a revolutionary, an activist as she goes ‘plaquing’ in order to educate people of these forgotten women. ‘Plaquing’, is the act of creating unofficial blue plaques and hammering them onto people’s property – also known as vandalism, but Maggie believes she is honoring these inspiring women of history.

Maggie plaques Jac’s house and gets seen. When confronted by Jac, Maggie manages to convince her to keep the plaque after explaining which amazing woman had lived in that house. 

From that encounter we watch as their relationship grows and how they begin to fall in love, move in together, get married and have a life together. These scenes are interspersed with later in the timeline as Maggie begins to lose her memory. At first, it is only small things, small things which can be explained by other reasons such as too busy, tired…any reason. Then Maggie loses her job due to being inadequate, she knew she was zoning out and sometimes she couldn’t remember how to get back to her desk, but didn’t realise it was problematic.

Jac is late for an important meeting due to lost car keys, they were eventually found in the fridge. Jac is angry and accuses Maggie of only thinking of herself and not caring. Maggie’s behaviour as though she is hiding something, constantly distracted. Maggie is distracted by the memories she has, she zones out with her memories to keep them alive – these are the memories which we see. 

Jac does her best, putting sticky notes around the house as reminders – it starts off with only a few for emergency numbers and then it leads to many sticky notes to remind Maggie to close the door, shut the window, put a coat on…

Eventually Maggie has to go into care and although she has tried so hard to retain as many memories as possible, when Jac visits with one of the blue plaques there is that heartbreaking question; ‘Well, hello! Who are you and what is that?’

This play is engaging, heartwarming and touching. It brings to reality the way dementia creeps into someone’s life slowly and so silently and the huge painful impact it can have. The writing is clever, with the initial subtle effects of memory loss and how it affects both people in a relationship, the perception is so different and the understanding comes much later. The actors are brilliant, being able to portray empathy and the many emotions of such a delicate situation. Well done to everyone involved and although it’s not quite an obvious subject matter for a night out, this is recommended as the performance is wonderful and you will leave the theatre being more educated.

Maggie – Henri Merriam
Jac 1 – Sarah Livingstone
Jac 2 – Caroline Rippin

Play Nicely Theatre
Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds


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