How important are memories if eventually they will be forgotten? Is living the moment that which brings value to life’s experience? Where is the hope when things seem hopeless?
You Will Remember Me is an intense and moving drama, full of true-to- life incidents and nice comedic moments. It captures the struggles of dementia and how it takes over the lives of the whole family. Edouard (Jean Marchand) is a history professor of certain fame and suffers from dementia. His repetitive questions and frustrations with his illness bring tremendous stress to his family. He can remember, both global and personal, the great events of the bygone days. He is an intellectual, if arrogant, man who uses his knowledge of history and his fractured memories to cope with the present. But his grasp of the present slips ever further from him as the play progresses.
Edouard’s wife, Madeleine (Lally Cadeau), sends him to live with their daughter, Isabelle (Johanna Nutter). Madeleine is worn down not only by his illness but by the disappointments of their long marriage; she is not heartless, she is anxious to move forward and not live in the past. Isabelle becomes overwhelmed with the responsibility and cries out for the love and affection that was missing from her relationship with her father. Her boyfriend, Patrick (a good Charles Bender), is superficially supportive. However, his millennial daughter, Berenice (Amanda Silveira), is fond of Edouard. Since she carries no baggage, she can relate to Edouard more honestly. Sensing his confusion with the past, she goes along as a means to calm and appease him. Their scenes together are very touching and filled with aching tenderness.
Mr. Marchand is outstanding and heartbreaking. He brilliantly captures the ever-changing shifts of mood and confusion that can affect dementia patients. Ms. Nutter is wonderful as the frustrated but loving daughter. Ms. Cadeau is terrific as she brings great sympathy to a role that could have been vilified. Ms. Silveira effortlessly reveals Berenice’s kindness underneath her immature exterior.
As part of the set, there are projections of the poplar trees that surround the house and images of neurons flashing as Edouard falls into frantic episodes. These are images of how Edouard sees the world around him. But they are not terrifying. Their familiarity brings comfort to him.
Memories can make up the story of our lives. They are part of our identity. But to relive the past is not living. Sometimes, the best moments in life happen in the present and it may be all that we have.
Photo Credit: Andrée Lanthier
You Will Remember Me: Presented by Centaur Theatre Company. Directed by Roy Surette. Written by François Archambault. Translated by Bobby Theodore. Show continues to April 2, 2017, at the Centaur Theatre, 453 St-François-Xavier, Old Montreal. Tickets $51.00 to $28.00. Call the box office at 514-288-3161 or go to www.centaurtheatre.com