Real life Alzheimer’s play is coming to Calderdale

Catherine in rehearsal for The Last Memory with Keith Royston, who plays her father, the fictional character of Ernest.
Catherine in rehearsal for The Last Memory with Keith Royston, who plays her father, the fictional character of Ernest.

Award-winning Calderdale playwright Alan Stockdill will present one of his most powerful pieces in Halifax this month - a story inspired by a man with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alan Stockdill’s The Last Memory, a poignant yet positive play about dementia and family relationships, will be a fundraiser for the local Alzheimer’s Society Singing for the Brain service.

It will be performed at The Workshop on St James Street in Halifax at 7.30pm on 23rd and 24th June.

The hour-long piece will be followed by an interval, then an optional Q&A session with the writer/director, actors and a representative from the Alzheimer’s’ Society.

These performances kick off a 12-date tour across the north and north west, including the Oldham Coliseum on Friday July 1.

“How can I go to heaven if I don’t know who I am?” said Ernest to his daughter Lynne when his niggling and worsening memory problems are finally diagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease. 

But he also has a plan: to leave a vital imprint of who he is. Lynne is to be the keeper of his memory, the guardian of their past. Join them on their journey, share their hopes, fears, smiles, strength and tears - and arrive with them as they seize the last memory and a carpe diem hope. 

The play was inspired by Edwin Harrison, 87, the real life ‘Ernest’, who lived at The Royal development on Free School Lane before he moved to Savile Park Care Home in 2012.

The Last Memory includes true stories from Edwin’s family, real letters, memories and experiences as well as some of Alan’s taken from his own life and experience of fatherhood.

The actress playing the character of Ernest’s daughter Lynne, Talking Stock producer Catherine Pasek, is actually Edwin’s daughter.

She is living in a similar situation with both her parents who are now in different Halifax nursing homes, each suffering with late stage dementia.

“This piece of writing is totally from the heart,” said Catherine.

“We’re delighted to be starting the tour in our home town. Dad has had this awful disease for the past 15 years but despite the diagnosis and situation we aim to show how it’s still possible to extract joy out of the pain and laughter from the tears.

“We’re really happy that Talking Stock are helping to raise both awareness and funds with this wonderful piece of drama,” said Alison Bradbury from Alzheimer’s Society.

For tickets, £10, go to wegottickets.com/talkingstock or contact Catherine on 07785 530129.