Tightrope Productions

Ten Ways to Abuse an Old Woman

by Sally Clark

Venue: Masonic Hall Dates: September 2004 / For dates and times consult Fringe Festival Programme

Reviewer: Jane Penistan




Director Sally Clark Set design  Lynda and Gary Chu Sound design Michael Rummen Lighting Erin Harris Stage Manager Yee Hang Yam




Joan Bryans and Sally Stubbs

In ten short scenes, the disrupting and disrupted life of a family living with Alzheimer's disease is portrayed. While full of funny incidents and accidents, the underlying theme of this short comedy is tragic. For all three main characters, the frustrations of the deteriorating faculties of the Old Woman are multiple.

Mother-daughter relations are fractured by misunderstanding, deafness and an unawareness of all that is happening in the household. Normal behaviour is suddenly abnormal. Husband - wife relations become strained. Through all this there is still an enjoyment of life and in the ongoing fracas - a sense of victory when one member of the family has scored off another.

As the Old Woman, Joan Bryans lives in two worlds, hovering between her own and the familiar one of her daughter. As the daughter, Sally Stubbs is bewildered as well as frustrated, but her patience is wearing thin. Robert French is her husband who is managing to be supportive, but also succeeds in escaping from the situation as often as possible, with plausible excuses.


The guests bring a breath of fresh air into the household, and the party is a great emotional release for the family. It also provides a very funny scene which Joan Bryans enjoys to the full.

The scene changes are not always as quick as might be desired and this disrupts the smooth running of the play which is otherwise well performed, particularly by the central character.

This is a new play and well done. It explores the problems families suffer as parents age, and it manages to bring a great deal of humour into an otherwise sad situation.

For more information tickets and reservations contact the Fringe Box Office, 604-257-0366 or visit www.vancouverfringe.com

2004 Jane Penistan