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Arts & Culture

Suárez mines the unbearable hardness of forgetting in 'I'll Remember for You'

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Once upon a time old people retired to their dotage aided by dozens of grandchildren and smiling nieces. Forgetfulness amongst the ancients was a granted, but no worries — their personal anecdotes were spoken often in earlier years and absorbed by younger generations. Told anew, they became chapters in the great story of the family. Today's senior experience is not likely to match this rosy picture, especially when caregiving is undertaken by a single person. The Jump-Start Performance Company's production of I'll Remember for You (Yo Me Acuerdo Por Tí), directed by Laurie Dietrich and written by and starring Lisa Suárez, portrays two Mexican-American women alone in a San Antonio house: an 85-year-old mother suffering with Alzheimer's disease and her actress daughter. The play premiered at Jump-Start in 2010 to great local acclaim. Suárez reprises her role as Mama with comedic wit; Pamela Dean Kenny has assumed the role of her daughter Lisa in the current production, which she holds with urbanity and tired authority. Told bilingually (with some of the best lines in Spanish), the play begins and ends with the same scene, a surprise birthday party. The audience is addressed as guests and encouraged to join the singing. In between, repetition occurs with less gaiety, and isolation rules. The mother's short-term memory is gone, and the daughter is forced to repeat urges to take daily pills, to get up, to go to adult day care, again and again. At times, it all turns into a game, with the dementia sufferer baiting her caregiver. But the mother's long-term memory is shot, too. She berates her daughter as the stranger who prevents her from going to the aid of her little niñas, or from preparing dinner for a long-gone husband. Suárez's old-lady shuffle and her cantankerousness add humor to an insufferable condition, but the interminable repetition of events strikes true (if not entertainingly so). Laughter is merited, but guilt and anger dominate in this family story almost as much as affection, or thoughts of wishing it had been enough.

I'll Remember for You (Yo Me Acuerdo Por Tí)

8pm Fri-Sat, 3pm Sun
The Sterling Houston Theater
108 Blue Star
(210) 227-5867
Through March 25

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