Tristan Bernays’ moving new play, Old Fools, which strips bare the problems of living with Alzheimer’s, premieres next month at London’s Southwark Playhouse.
Starring Frances Grey and Mark Arends this surprising, touching and often humorous tale is about a couple, one of whom is living with Alzheimer’s, and their enduring efforts to hold their relationship together through the years.
Bernays’ first play to be staged in London, since the storming success of Boudica, at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2017, Old Fools is the story of Tom and Viv, their love and the life they’ve shared together – from first spark to dying light. But not necessarily in that order.
Mark Arends (Tom) played the title role in Hamlet, receiving a commendation in the Ian Charleson Awards, directed by Kelly Hunter at Trafalgar Studios.
He has appeared at the National Theatre (A Dream Play, The UN Inspector, The Cat in the Hat, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast), The Royal Shakespeare Company (Two Gentlemen of Verona) and the Almeida (Winston Smith, in 1984, and Marianne Dreams).
Frances Grey (Viv) recently played Hermione in The Winter’s Tale (Lyceum Theatre). She was in Alan Aykbourn’s Neighbourhood Watch (Tricyle) and Platonov (Almeida). On TV she played DS Kate Beauchamp in all three series of Messiah.
Tristan Bernays said: “My grandpa had Alzheimer’s and my biggest fear about growing old is the same may happen to me.
“We all know someone who’s been affected by Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Maybe it will happen to us one day.
“I wrote Old Fools to confront this fear head on – yes, it’s a play about the disease, but more importantly it’s about the people behind the disease. How we cope when someone we love disappears little by little. How we must never forget the wonderful person they once were – even if they are not there any more.”
Directed by Sharon Burrell Old Fools runs in The Little at Southwark Playhouse from March 14 – April 7.