Hard hitting dementia play transformed into film

Stars of show...the actors in Quiet Riot
Stars of show...the actors in Quiet Riot

THE sequel to a play depicting the realities of a family affected by dementia is to go on tour – as a film adaptation of the original production is released.

The Merry Dance is the follow-up to the acclaimed and thought-provoking Quiet Riot, which has just been launched on YouTube.

Both productions were penned by playwright Maggie Aitken after extensive research, which included visiting dozens of people living with the condition, and their families, throughout Scotland.

“These productions focus on dementia, the difficulties and the practical changes in life - all based on the real testimony of those who’ve been there or who are going through it right now,” explained Maggie.

The project was funded through the Reshaping Care for Older People (RCOP) programme which aims to help growing numbers of older people to continue to live full, positive and independent lives in the community.

The RCOP partnership has combined the expertise of North Lanarkshire Council, NHS Lanarkshire and the independent and the third (voluntary) sector.

The original aim of The Quiet Riot was to create a heightened understanding and empathy of the impact of dementia within health and social care staff.

But the production caught the imagination of a far wider audience - including many members of the public. Now the fly-on-the-wall narrative of the new play is set to pack out venues across Lanarkshire once again as a film of the original goes live.

“In the story so far we’ve given audiences a candid glimpse into the lives of a close-knit family trying to deal with the implications of a loved one living with dementia – just before their first visit from a social worker,” Maggie continued.

“The lead character, Bob MacKenzie, is a straight-talking Scotsman with a big heart and a bigger mouth. But he’s struggling to come to terms with profound life changes as he cares for his wife, Isabel.

“Originally the plan was to create a resource for professionals to provide an insight into the type of conversations that go on behind closed doors just before their visits.

“The feedback we received was that the narrative struck a chord with many people, including individuals and families, who’d also attended the first round of productions, and who were going through a similar situation.

“We found that the story provided a reassurance that they are not alone – and there are supports available. We made a film version to extend the reach of that message.”