‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ is a wonderful play to advance scientific knowledge about dementia – a powerful and moving performance’
James Levine MD PhD, President Fondation Ipsen, Paris.
Letter from Dr. Jill Vogler to Brian Daniels following a showing of Don’t Leave Me Now in Leeds
“This was the most moving play I have ever experienced (and belonging to a small theatre group at St Edmunds we have seen many performances at the Playhouse over the years) I think it was the range of human emotions expressed, anger, frustration, exasperation, bewilderment, helplessness, fear, disdain and even flashes of humour, and finally, forgiveness and understanding that was so striking .
I found the portrayal of the progress of dementia quite authentic. Fundamentally the play was about loss which I could identify with which having lost my husband nearly a year ago. However in this case the loss was about the person one had known being remorselessly diminished by the cruel progress of the condition.
Even though it was acted as a radio play with the actors reading from their scripts we gained a lot from being able to see their facial expressions and in the case of the two dementia sufferers, by their visible shrinking in the course of the evening.
In the end what remained was the bond of love (fashioned over many years) between the dependent sufferer and their caring spouse
It was a totally riveting performance and I cannot recommend it more highly
Jill Vogler – 16.1.2018
‘Dementia, like death is a very delicate subject and you tackled it with humour and insightfulness. I was particularly impressed by the frustration and anger people feel. Both as the person with dementia and the carers and you caught that in the play’ – Yvonne Saville
‘It was a fascinating play taken from real life experiences and showed the way dementia can affect members of their family. ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ – Catch it if you see it advertised! Aline Waites – theatre critic and actor
‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ made a huge impact to the Conference programme and has left our attendees with some great ideas and knowledge to take away with them. We have had some fantastic feedback and would truly like to thank you’. Becky Herbert, Senior Event Executive, McCullough Moore – on behalf of NACC 2017 Conference.
‘I know I will not be alone in expressing my admiration for the actors who presented the drama. As someone who, as a carer is now about 95% through the dementia journey, the drama portrayed, I can totally vouch for the accuracy and the feeling the actors put into their roles was totally realistic. I have to admit to a lot of lip biting as the drama/journey progressed and the memories and experiences were played out. I hope this drama gets more and more exposure’. Dorothy House Hospice, Bradford upon Avon
‘The play was so good, so powerful and emotional. Just brilliant’. Dorothy House Hospice, Bradford upon Avon.
‘The play was the best teaching I’ve ever had – much better than a teaching session; it stays with you for longer’ – Health care assistant
‘The play left many of us quite emotional at the end; it was hard impacting, however so valuable and generated a discussion afterwards which I imagine will continue for days to come for those who attended and leave a lasting memory’. – Ruth White – Chief Executive The Rowans Hospice, Hampshire
‘…. To hear and see how touched the audience were was absolutely fabulous. I can’t thank you and your team enough. You were brilliant’ – Dr Gemima Fitzpatrick – Clinical Psychologist/Bereavement Lead, The Rowans Hospice.
‘It was meaningful and poignant – your gift of writing was so engaging’. Karina Christiansen
‘Dementia affects the whole family. This was powerfully portrayed in ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ – and without the devotion of families who care for people with dementia; the financial and emotional need would be far too great to ensure care is delivered’ – Nicki Parry – End of Life Care Facilitator (Royal Trinity Hospice, London).
‘…… The subtle and moving approach to this brutal disease does not cease to amaze me. As a neuroscientist it was also fascinating how medically and scientifically accurate your portrayal was. Art met science in this emotional story brought to life by your group of dedicated and talented actors’. – Dr Zsuzsanna Nagy – Senior Lecturer College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham.
‘I was absolutely gob-smacked by the reading of your play. I thought it so interesting and really made you think about Alzheimers. Many, many congratulations – Rosemary Friedman (Novelist and Playwright)
‘Inspirational’ – thank you for a stimulating play and discussion – Dr Elizabeth Carmody (Consultant Psychiatrist in Learning Disability Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust)
‘I really enjoyed the play and thought it was excellent, moving and thought provoking. It was brilliantly done. – Philip Davies MP
‘It was absolutely terrific and the feedback fascinating’ ‘the play is subtly powerful, sympathetic and sharp, sad and funny and hearing it read engages me as seeing it performed might not have done. Where dementia is the villain, words are priceless’ – Howard Jacobson – Booker Prize Winning author. (The New Statesman – May 2016)
‘During the play I felt I was grieving for my father – although he is still alive. I found the last scene especially moving. Both the script and the acting were extraordinarily powerful and cathartic and it was one of the best awareness raising events I have ever attended. Thank you. – Dr Anthony Donnelly-Drummond (Course Leader for BA (Hons) Criminology & Psychology – Leeds Beckett University)
‘I was gripped. I thought the emotions of the carers was demonstrated well. It’s a great way to cascade what it can be like to live with and care for dementia – Nicola Phillis (Quality Improvement Lead Clinical Networks – Dementia NHS England North
‘The play was totally engaging and I found myself very immersed in the characters who were very real to me and their dynamics were very familiar too. It was refreshing! – Faye Marshall-Wright (Palliative Care Nurse).
‘It was funny and it was sad and very thought provoking. Most of all though I found it hopeful – that love carries on through all adversity’ – Kerry Jackson (Chief Executive – St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds)
‘Brilliantly and powerfully portrayals of the wide reaching effects of dementia. Compelling. I’m astounded at the skilful way each and every actor engaged the audience in such a spellbinding way with just a set of chairs and a script! Many thanks for the experience – Paula Fretwell (Care Quality Commission)
‘The play reading was wonderful, it was so accurate, sensitive, moving and funny. You must be incredibly proud’ – Lucille Thirlby (Unison)
‘It was as good (and more) than I could have asked for. Thanks so much to all of you for your brilliant input’ – Heather Richardson (Joint Chief Executive – St Christopher’s Hospice)
‘I would love to be involved in future productions – it’s such a good way to engage and support people in these challenging areas’ – Dr Jo Withers (Finity)
‘It was an emotive and informative day. I got so much out of it. Very thought provoking’ – Jo Oates – The Rennie Hospice, Tring
‘Your words will stay with me for a long time’ – Fi Glover (BBC Radio 4 Producer of ‘The Listening Project’. .
‘What a fantastic play’ – John Walsh – Leeds Community Healthcare NHS.
‘I was really impressed by the play – and the opportunity we have to develop our staff using this approach’ – Dr Ros Tolcher – Chief Executive Harrogate & District Foundation Trust
‘It was amazing. I have had such lovely feedback from everyone who attended’ – Tracy Campbell – Head of Nursing, Integrated Care – Harrogate & District Foundation Trust
‘The play was fantastic – we have received excellent feedback’ – Anjuman Ghaffar –Workforce Development Officer, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
‘For a wide variety of people to really connect with the script and delivery of it shows what a good play you have there’ – Chris Farquhar – Member Development Manager, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
‘Thank you for coming to Exeter Street Hall and for performing your brilliant play. It was a real triumph and we all enjoyed it very much. The discussion was very good for both shows and demonstrates how relevant your work is’. Marianne Craig – Director of Exeter Street Community Centre, Brighton
‘Funny, truthful, very moving’ – Sue Holderness (Actress)
‘A Sensitive, powerful play. Lovely performances and very truthful’ – Norma Prior (Dementia Campaigner)
‘Extremely moving and powerful. A real eye-opener to the struggles and issues of families dealing with dementia (Molly Hunt)
‘Thank you. It was wonderful to air this matter which opens many questions around normal everyday life’ (Agama Cunningham – Hospice volunteer)
‘I found it a powerful and nuanced presentation of many issues that people with dementia and their family face during their experience’ – Professor Katherine Froggatt (Professor of Ageing and Palliative Care International Observatory on End of Life Care)
‘A fabulous piece of work, powerful and entertaining as well as very helpful in the process of getting one’s head around the complex issues of dementia and memory loss. (The Venerable Peter Sutton – Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight)
‘Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Wow! Electrifying performance. (Lady Sally Grylls)
‘I greatly enjoyed the play – I intend to reserve some funding to bring it to Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire’ – (Professor Esme Moniz-Cook – Hon Professor Dementia Research – Faculty of Health & Social Care, University of Hull.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed the reading which I found very powerful and well presented’ – Mike Fisher Chair of Trustees Quay Arts Theatre, Isle of Wight.
‘It was a fabulous, true-to-life play – looking at all aspects of dementia’ – (Suhaner Ahmed – Psychiatrist working with older people)
‘The script was exceptionally true to life – and very, very well acted. I look forward to the ‘big’ show in the West End!’ (David Williams, Chair Healthwatch, Sutton)
‘Pulls a wonderful emotional punch with great impact’ (Julie Burton-Jones)
‘The characters were very good, very real to life – excellent performance. The content was gaining awareness for carers – very informative and emotive. I really enjoyed it’ (Valerie Thompson – Clinical Nurse Specialist)
‘Thoroughly enjoyed it, very heartfelt and quite emotional. I am currently nearing the end of my nursing degree and will suggest this play as a must see for my colleagues’ (Emma Connolly)
‘Beautifully portrayed, wonderfully acted’ (Elspeth Dykstra – Nurse)
‘Brilliant! Very powerful and moving’ – (Shevon Dalena – Community Nurse)
‘Very touching and poignant’ (Eglionna Treanor – CEO Wandsworth Carers Organisation)
‘It had a good balance of humour and the impact of the more angry outbursts, it was great top see both aspects showcased’ (Rebecca Wilson – Dementia Support Manager)
‘So real, as a nurse I want to know the life my patient has had. I am not so sure nurses have enough understanding – they treat the condition but not the patient, although this is changing with training. The play needs to be filmed and be part of medical and nursing training (Mary Lawler – Matron Elderly Care – Ealing Hospital)
‘It introduces all of the elements and effects that dementia has on not only sufferers but as importantly for carers/family. I hope it succeeds and that lots of people can learn from it. (Chris Turton – Chief Executive Sutton HS)
‘Yes, it was excellent. I connected with it on several levels. Personally through my experience of my grandmother with vascular dementia, my friend with NVCJD and as a doctor working with people with dementia. The portrayal of the family dynamics, love lost was very moving but kept in mind the good times too. It also highlighted the importance of the carer trying to look after themselves. (Dr Claire Dinnis – Psychiatrist)
‘Its humanity, truth and pathos drew you into the situation’ – Nigel Goodwin
‘My husband has vascular dementia. The play hit the nail on the head in so many ways – the truthfulness enabling identity and comfort of not being alone…. actors read parts beautifully.
‘I was amazed how emotional I felt especially at the shouting and the love for the daughter to her father (Shirley Saunders)
‘It was so realistic I was pulled into it emotionally and thought the actors were the characters. It really all worked so well (Christine Troy)
‘It’s a story that needs to be told. It shows the struggle of those afflicted and the struggle of their families. I thought the characters were true to people with dementia and their families. Some brilliant acting. Beautiful writing. (Melissa Remus – Head Teacher)
‘Very moving but enjoyable and at times amusing – brilliant acting. Loved it!’ (Professor Nick Frost – Leeds Becket University)
‘A privilege to be there. The saddest facet for me is the growing separation, the sense that your loved friend is an ’emptying vessel’ and will eventually vanish without goodbye on either sides. (Jim Walker)
‘The balance between reason and emotion; the direct appeal to a theatre audience; all audience members would like to hear more about the play – these were the valuable aspects of the reading. (Eileen Christopher)
‘Very powerful and moving’ – (Professor M Losowsky)
‘Very emotional, very, very well written. Spot on. It all worked – ending was a perfect climax. It’s a long time since I left the theatre so moved and thinking about what I saw. (Louise Hanen – Chair of Dementia Forward, Harrogate)
‘It had a lot of humour. I liked the joy as well as the pain. It is important to demystify ageing and alzheimers and dementia. We must all talk about it and explore it. The brilliant, hard-working cast gave us a little distance by their professional skill to THINK about the issues of the play (Valerie Colgan – Drama Tutor and Chair of RVH Foundation)
‘We liked the conciseness and the understatement which governed this play’. I attended with great trepidation because the subject of alzheimers frightens me a great deal. At the end of the evening I found myself in a different position about the subject. The fear subsided. You managed to humanise this phenomena. In fact, the play was a hopeful statement about the human spirit in the face of the human predicament. It evoked a host of emotions, laughter and tears without falling into the trap of sentimentality. (Racheli Azgad – Psychotherapist)
‘Congratulations – super idea brought convincingly to life and so wonderfully useful as a piece of theatre. I think that’s all one can be in life – useful! Well done. (Dame Janet Suzman – Actor)
‘A very complete piece. I like the contrasting responses to suffering of ‘Ruth’ and ‘Penny’, and this contrast for me is what makes the play interesting and topical (Edward Turner – Dignity in Dying Campaign)
‘I was really very impressed by the play and was surprised how much it affected me. You have created something very special, both moving and funny and it will raise awareness and hopefully help more people understand dementia and get help or if they are professionals do a better job! Thank you for inviting me (Joy Watkins – Dementia UK Head Office)
‘The juxtaposition of everyday life of ordinary people with the unknown journey towards progression of the disease and the way in which the disease is spotlighted in a sensitive and humour light really captured my imagination (Dr Justin Sturge – University of Humberside)
‘Beautifully observed – balance of humour and pathos’ (Gary Horrocks – Writer)
‘It covered the range of emotions, expectations, denials, judgements and coping mechanisms’ (Janette Battye – Alzheimers Society)
‘Humour and Grittiness – touches the emotions’ (Margaret Newton – the Methodist Church)
‘I have no experience of dementia but I found the writing and acting to be extremely authentic and very, very moving. The writing was great – fantastic job. The sense of the whole experience – the grief, frustration, overwhelm and even the funny bits struck me. The value was in seeing how it could be an enriching experience even with the great loss’ (Leslie Holmes)
‘Such a true portrayal of how dementia has the ripple effect throughout the family and friends – but can create new friendships. Fabulous actors enabled me to feel the emotions of real life for people living with and caring for people with dementia (Janet Hawksworth – Kirkwood Hospice)
‘Honest and moving and believable in all aspects’ (Jennie Linden – Actor)
‘I have three parishioners with dementia. The play brought home the depth of emotion, the range of issues helped me to relate to the many difficulties’ (Rev. Veronica Brown)
‘I liked the play’s realism; the conflicts that affect you emotionally. The difficulty of acceptance/denial; the impact on one’s life; how it affects your children; how you need to begin your life again after years as a carer. Would love to see a full production.’ – (Margaret Swinton)
‘Thank you for the experience! A very powerful play about a very important issue’ – (Jacques Cohen – Musician)
‘I found it a fascinating story. Very sad and heart-breaking. You do hear about more and more people suffering from dementia and I guess the numbers will only grow bigger as we tend to live longer. The subject raises at least 2 questions – the first is – quality of life and the second and as important – what is quality of life? Are the people with dementia happy and content? If so who are we to judge and if not? Definitely something to think about. – (Iris – Cultural Attache)
‘The play was wonderfully powerful – it was just so so real and I could identify with much of it. I really hope it gets the attention it deserves’ (Abigail Radnor – Journalist: The Guardian)
‘One of the main and nicest things about the play is though the play features the issue of dementia, it is not necessarily a play about dementia. I enjoyed the fact that the relationships and coping strategies/reactions of the carers was explored and developed throughout the play ….. I felt the play was wonderfully performed, fully engaging, believable and moving. (Rosaleen Maguire)
‘So realistic and truthful’ (Mimi Albaz)
‘It was very well written – very economical and extremely powerful; thought-provoking too. It works both as a personal drama and to make you think about your own relationships to ageing and dementia’ (Joe Elliot – TV feature maker)
‘You explored the complex emotions very well’ (Hilda Hayo – CEO Dementia UK)
‘Loved the emotional feeling/pace. Educational. loved the build up of pace re the dysfunction and odd behaviours (Rachel Webb)
‘The play felt very real and true to life. I think everybody knows someone who has dementia. It was very well acted (Cllr David Horne – Lord Mayor Portsmouth)
‘Heartfelt, funny, authentic – an honest portrayal of love. (Sheena Hastings – Journalist)
‘It was completely true and very moving. It showed very clearly the reactions of the patients’ relatives who are the real sufferers. The whole thing was so true to life’ – (Clive Roslin – Journalist/Broadcaster)
‘I recognised a lot of the behaviour – well observed. It is important that difficult subjects are shown on stage (Thelma Ruby – Actor)
‘I liked the power of the language and felt that there was hope, love and tenderness’ (Cllr Jim Clark – Mayor of Harrogate)