STYX by Max Barton explores a families gradual loss through the disease Alzheimer’s. With his Grandmother Flora being diagnosed with it and losing his Grampa Mike from the illness too the family have the first-hand experience in the painful way in which these takes loved ones before they die.
The extraordinary journey Barton has captured from his Grandmother’s memory through the personal conversation recordings he had with her are then intertwined with a well-timed combination of taped interviews, musical score, dramatic lighting and taped dialogue from the band members.
I especially liked the use of the individual lightbulb stage setting. Each bulb can be independently controlled and during times of memory loss or lack of clarity the bulbs would flicker and turn off as the memory was lost. Such an effective yet simple idea which adds another depth to this emotive production.
Barton explores what it is like to lose our memories. What exactly makes us who we are and the interlinking family stories that connect each of us and our family links. Are we all connected by our past and present? Do coincidences within families exist, or are we predestined? That’s for the audience to decide.
Flora and Mike had set up the Orpheus music club before Barton was born. Part of the production sets out the quest in which Barton attempts to track down and see this venue for himself.
This autobiographical family history musical is a beautifully constructed Memoriam for Barton’s Grandpa who himself was a musician. The tribute paid to Mike at the end is tear-jerking.
Photograph taken from the photo on display in Zoo Southside venue.