REVIEW – Geordie Sinatra, Theatre Royal, Newcastle

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START spreading the news – this play delivers on its promise of laughs.

A play about dementia might not sound a funny subject. It’s challenging and upsetting, especially for those who have dealt with it first hand.

But if, like me, you fear tears or a night of misery at Geordie Sinatra, hold on.

Sunderland-raised writer Fiona Evans touts it as a humorous story about a family and dementia with Sinatra songs.

As it turns out, she’s spot on and has capitalised on those moments so tragic they’re absurd and if anything, the condition runs alongside the tribulations between its characters.

Without giving away the twist in the tale or the jokes, it’s set in a rundown coastal bar home to George Carson, aka old club turn Geordie Sinatra, and his partner Joan, who cares for him after he was diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB).

One of its symptoms is hallucinations, which in Geordie’s case lead to him to believe he’s the Rat Packer while those around become the singer’s mother, second wife Ava Gardner or old pal.

These scenes are the real selling point of the show because when Geordie has an episode and belts out Ol’ Blue Eyes’ hits, the three other actors often become part of it too.

Dancing, singing and playing a range of instruments along with multiple roles, this is a small and talented cast, backed up with a top pianist.

The story centres on the return of daughter Nancy, a thoroughly self-absorbed gossip queen and writer, and her failure to understand her dad’s illness.

Of course this gets across the point of the play, to entertain while tackling prejudices in society, raise awareness and call for action.

Because, as Geordie puts it, we will all face that “final curtain” and hit old age.

To follow that point, a free event called What About Me? is being held at the Live Theatre on Wednesday at 5pm to talk through issues about dementia, with more information available via www.live.org,uk

Fiona Thompson