Nancy Reagan famously referred to her husband’s lengthy bout with Alzheimer’s disease at “the long goodbye” – a prolonged and painful process of shedding the various levels of one’s memories, one’s very identity as a person.
The Point is a portrayal of a similar devolution. Playwright Marilyn Ansevin Austin is a longtime psychotherapist who brings her deep understanding of the pain of grappling with dementia to the script.
The lead, Fran (Margeaux Martine), is a retired physician who has began to unravel mentally – confusing her memories with the present day, forgetting important appointments, lashing out in violent anger at her barking dog.
Fran has a tight-knit support network of people who love and care for her, including her daughter Julie (Cristen Stephansky) and a retired priest (Kim Curtis), but they find their attempts to help her increasingly strained as her psyche devolves.
The story of an accomplished person grappling with the indignities of age and mental collapse is a compelling theme. Ansevin obviously brings a nuanced expertise from her years of professional experience to the script and the cast is convincing, especially Martine who captures the full range of Fran’s lapse from a woman supremely in control.
The story is weighed down, however, with a strong dose of melodrama. A subplot involving the priest may be timely for audiences given the recent spotlight that Pope Francis’s visit shined on scandals in the Catholic church, but ultimately distracted this reviewer from the primary story thread and the questions of identity it raises. The production brings a dramatic hammer – including a shocking ending to Act One – to a story that may have benefitted from a more subtle exploration of what it’s like to slowly lose control over one’s own mind. Several scenes, most notably the conclusion, do seem to drift away aimlessly, without a strong sense of a conclusion – or a full reckoning of the story’s central question of just what the point of it all is.
The Point by Marilyn Ansevin Austin . Directed by Ross Heath . Featuring Margeaux Martine, Melissa B. Robinson, Mohamed Numan, Kim Curtis, Cristen Stephansky, and Will Hawkins . Technical Director: Jeff Maione. Music Composer: Evan J. Dice . Sound & Lighting Designer: Will Hawkins . Graphic Designer: Jasen Hengst . Sound Effects & Promotional Video: J. Michael Whalen . Scenic & Properties Designer: Lisa Marie Thalhammer . Produced by Arcturus Theater Company . Reviewed by Daron Christopher.