Imprints is an unexpectedly moving piece of dance theatre by Nux, a dance platform that has been based in Scotland since 2007. This is the story of a couple whose comfortable world is dismantled, slowly and insidiously, as the wife develops Alzheimer’s.
The two performers, Maite Delafin and Michael Sherin, easily pulled the audience in to their cosy world of domesticity. We witnessed the daily routine of the wife coming home, shoes off, radio and kettle on. Husband arrives home: they hold eye contact long enough to establish intimacy and then perform a ‘courtship’ dance of sensuous greeting. She hangs out the washing; they snuggle up on the sofa – her with her cuppa, helping him with his crossword. Drinking wine at the dinner table, they become increasingly affectionate as the wine takes hold. They clear the table and once again perform their courtship dance as they go off to bed.
With a blackout between scenes, this routine of harmony and togetherness is again repeated: a different day sees her kicking off different shoes, but all else remains as before, except for one small deviation. We notice that she does not put the glasses away in the usual place. He doesn’t notice.
Gradually, as their routine is repeated with subtle, but meaningful changes, there is a growing sense of fear and unease. She becomes progressively absent, unable to perform, remember or later even recognise the ordinary rituals of their daily life. He, with attentive devotion, progresses through confusion to a grudging awareness and a final, defeated realisation.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s that emerge, barely perceptible at first, echo the accounts we hear from real-life experiences: the placing of familiar items in odd places; the slow withdrawal from usual interests and activities and the inexplicable mood swings.
As Alzheimer’s tears through her memory, shredding her identity, bit by painful bit, their relationship empties out of the holes left gaping where she once stood. By the time the damage is evident, it is already over, and he didn’t really notice she was going until she had all but gone.
The two performers, aided by a disturbing and dramatic soundtrack, created an absorbing piece of dance theatre. And although it leaves you in a somewhat thoughtful and melancholy frame of mind, there is a tenderness and beauty at its core that should allow you at least a gentle smile.
Show times: 19, 5pm; 20, 6pm; 21, 7pm