And Before I Forget I Love You marks solo performer Pip Utton's 25th year at the Edinburgh Fringe, and this intimate story brings light to the condition of Alzheimers.
Utton's performance is bookended by two funerals of a couple who both suffered with Alzheimers. We follow Michael, who loses his wife Chrissie, as he attempts to tell us, the funeral guests, what she quite meant to him. The opening feels intimate and warm, and Utton's charm and attention to detail in his dialogue allows you to be drawn in and invested in Michael's story. It is neither overdramatised or underplayed.
Utton manages to find both the funny and the upsetting in describing the condition, whether that be joking about Chrissie making a supper of burnt sausages and banana or a cashier allowing them to not pay for shopping after Chrissie hands a remote control as payment.
Utton's commandment of the stage is superb, investing us in Michael's story even as the character does begin to slip. We watch, unable to help, as Michael's own mental condition detioriates, and begin to feel how he must have when watching his wife. A moment when loud voice and colourful lighting is used feels a touch abstract considering the simple storytelling form of the play thus far, but doesn't detract entirely from what has been built up to they moment.
Though an emotional watch, And Before I Forget I Love You, I Love You is a truthful and respectful portrayal of living with and alongside Alzheimers.