Arts & Entertainment

Creative Cauldron’s ‘Kaleidoscope’: A Beautiful & Difficult Portrayal of Alzheimer’s

Florence Lacey as Evelyn Thorne. (Photo: Keith Waters, Kx Photography)

The current offering at Falls Church’s own award-winning Creative Cauldron theater is a world premiere musical by Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith entitled “Kaleidoscope,” running through May 28.

The play is beautiful and beautifully executed, with Florence Lacey commanding the lead role with a powerful and moving rendition of Evelyn Thorne, an aging actress trying to carry on her career with a one-person show, but gradually succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Her two daughters, played brilliantly by Susan Derry and Catherine Purcell, and granddaughter Sophia Manicone, try their best to manage Evelyn’s steady descent into the unforgiving mental prison that is how Alzheimer’s works.

The rapt audience on a sold out first Saturday performance last weekend was engaged by the beautiful music, the compassionate acting and the frank truth telling that constitute the work. Oft repeated in comments afterward and since on line combine “beautiful” with “difficult.”

Persons should not come to this production unaware of its theme, otherwise it may be a bit emotionally overwhelming. As with the millions who suffer as and care for the victims of Alzheimer’s, the only succor is in the considerable love expressed in diligent care even if less and less recognized.

As baby boomers enter retirement age, many are subject to being both victims, themselves, and caregivers of their own parents, making this a very real and important issue to confront. For my money, there should be no greater priority for medical research than unlocking the cure for this ravaging disease.

“Can we bring hope and inspiration to a landscape so bleak?” asks the Cauldron’s Producing Director Laura Hull in her program notes. “As our leading lady stumbles through a kaleidoscope of images from her vibrant life in the theater, her family works diligently to keep those memories alive. Because of them she continues to ‘find her light’ even as her final curtain is approaching. ‘Kaleidoscope’ reminds us that if we live our lives to the fullest our memories become finely crafted stories. If we are lucky those stories are kept and held by the people that we hold dearest long after we’ve passed from this earth. Is there anything better that we could ask for?”

With or without an onset of dementia, if we are lucky we all age and require the love, care, and remembering that others provide. A good life’s goal is to give of one’s own love and talents sufficiently that as the mantle gets passed, others are gratefully willing to bear it.

Falls Church’s Kensington senior assisted living and memory care community is contributing to post-performance discussions following all Thursday and Sunday performances. This coming Sunday, May 21, in memory of the late State Del. Jim Scott, $15 of every $30 ticket purchased for either the 2 p.m. or 8 p.m. show will be donated to the Insight Memory Care Center and post-performance discussion following the 7 p.m. show will be led by Del. Scott’s surviving wife, Nancy Scott.