Spillikin: A Love Story by Pipeline Theatre

This was a brilliant new play created by Pipeline Theatre and it really was a tour de force! Fantastic scriptwriting dealing with the very sensitive issue of Alzheimer’s and the fallibility of the human body, was very much on show here, not to mention the experience of seeing a full-on robot as one of the main roles!

Writer and director Jon Welch has come up with a fascinating piece of theatre focusing on Sally, an older woman struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. We meet her deceased husband Raymond through a series of flashbacks of Sally’s initial encounters with him, and then we witness over the course of these flashbacks their budding relationship and his passion for robotics. The actors here playing the younger Sally and Raymond were terrific, Michael Tonkin-Jones as Raymond and Anna Munden as the young Sally.

Helen Ryan as the elder Sally was absolutely sensational, creating absolute authenticity as she lost her words, eventually disintegrating into stuttering mumbles.

With the passing of Raymond, due to a rare genetic condition, for which the made up name Spillikin is affectionately derived due to his tendency to spill everything, Sally is left with the robot he spent his life making, to accompany her when he was gone. Programmed with all the memories Sally and Raymond shared, he is constantly aware of her mood, and often asks questions to keep her sharp.

Robothespian in his own right is a star in this show. Made by Will Jackson, he moves extremely fluidly. The moment when Sally asks to hold his hand is touching as he slowly assumes the role of Raymond in her life. His face is extraordinary, with the structure of the human face, but an interior screen expressing all the emotions of a human, while producing sounds, music and words from the huge speaker in his chest. He is a constant blinking of lights and fascination on the stage.

Furthermore the use of projection on the back wall was very beautiful and worked wonderfully with the footage of Sally and Raymond’s ‘Wimpy Wedding Reception’.

A fantastic piece of theatre and hopefully we well get another chance to see this in London or wherever it will surely go. Top writing, top performances and the future of robotics to boot. Tremendous!

Highlight of the show – Too much to choose from. The writing? The acting? Robothespain? We loved it all!

5/5 WIGS

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