Sunderland playwright delves into personal pain of dementia with “Geordie Sinatra”

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A WRITER has combined humour and heartbreak as she tackles dementia in her latest work.

Geordie Sinatra, by Fiona Evans, is in rehearsal ahead of its stage debut next month

FAMILY FUN: Fiona Evans, pictured with dad David in 1973 in their garden in Munster, Germany, where he was based with the army - their relationship helped inspire her latest play.

FAMILY FUN: Fiona Evans, pictured with dad David in 1973 in their garden in Munster, Germany, where he was based with the army - their relationship helped inspire her latest play.

Billed as a dark comedy, it follows ex-club singer Geordie as he suffers hallucinations of Rat Pack star Frank Sinatra, while his daughter Nancy despairs.

The idea was sparked by a conversation Sunderland-raised Fiona had with mum Mary, 78, about the issues she has faced since her dad David, 80, fell ill with dementia.

While it is not autobiographical, Fiona’s latest work was inspired by her father-daughter relationship with David, a former serviceman, Vaux and Thorn’s worker.

Fiona, a former St Anthony’s School pupil, from Mill Hill, said: “I describe it as a comedy about dementia with Sinatra songs, but really it’s about family identity, a daughter’s love and how to care for people.

“They’re massive themes, but hopefully they will bring big laughs.

“I think it’s really important there’s humour, because we as a family are quite funny and always find something humorous and because sometimes you do just have to laugh.

“While it is a serious subject I also wanted to do something that people who are carers and in that position can come along, understand it and have a good night.”

Sinatra’s own life also plays a part in telling the tale, chosen by the 41-year-old writer because he is known by generations.

It will move on to the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough after its run at Newcastle’s Live Theatre.

As part of her research Fiona spent time at a dementia centre and she has since become a volunteer for the Alzhemier Society and will run the Great North Run for the charity.

Geordie Sinatra will run at the Live from Wednesday, April 18, to Saturday, May 12, with more information available via www.live.org.uk

Fiona is collecting sponsorship for the Great North Run via www.justgiving.com/Fiona-Evans3

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham