Last Tuesday morning I woke up early. I took a walk to a car to a bus to the air-train to a plane to a transfer to another plane to a hotel van to get to Louisville where, on Tuesday night, I saw Coleman Domingo's play "Dot" which is being presented as part of the Humana Festival at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Wednesday, I took a hotel van to a flight to an oh-my-god sprinting-through-the-airport transfer to another flight to an air-train to a car to a walk back to my apartment.
It was a quick trip.
I went because my friend Kevin is in the play and because I'd long heard of Humana but never been. Initially, I tried to arrange a trip where I got to see some other plays and spend a little more time in Louisville, but . . . well, there's a lot going on and it just didn't work out. No matter. Next time.
"Dot" is wonderful. The writing is wonderful and the performances do a bright and loving job of bringing the writing to life.
The play is about a family whose matriarch has dementia and has just begun to decline beyond what can be shrugged off as mere forgetfulness. The patriarch has died and so the younger generation - three biological children, one spouse, one neighbor-the-family-has-known-forever, and one illegal caregiver hired off of Craig's List - all with problems of their own, are faced with the dilemma of how to deal with the mother's inevitable decline. The writing is bravely and effectively honest about the anger and impatience family members feel when faced with a failing loved one, as well as perceptive in its portrayal of the matriarch's take on and response to her situation. The entire play is loaded with laughs which make it feel even more true to life, but which also keep the whole from veering too deeply into pathos and despair.
My own mother did not have dementia, but we did go through a lot with her over a period of about a year. In the process, I had a window onto what it is to be aging in America (at least in my corner of America) which is not a pretty picture.
Coleman Domingo's play is, I believe, an important contribution to the conversation on caring for our sick and elderly. While you likely missed it at Humana (it closes April 12), it is my hope - and suspicion - that it will see many productions around the country in the coming years and I hope you'll take the opportunity to see one.