David C Jones, Jackie Minns, and R David Stephens in Try to Remember.
David C Jones, Jackie Minns, and R David Stephens in Try to Remember.

The second show about dying with dignity at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival opens at the PAL Studio Theatre in Coal Harbour, with Try to Remember from Vancouver-based playwright R. David Stephens.

While Dion Arnold continues to take a comedic look at this sombre subject in How I Killed My Nan, Stephens’ play is much more dramatic. Not to say there isn’t some humour sprinkled throughout to help lighten the piece, but it is in stark contrast to Arnold’s monologue. He also uses movement and even something akin to magical realism.

The story of Stephens’ mother who suffered from dementia, this is an obvious personal project. It often feels like a eulogy, especially with the use of projected family photographs and home videos. There is also an element of advocacy which, while important, sometimes pulls us from the emotional context. Try to Remember is at its most powerful when it focuses on the effects dementia has on caregivers.

Reviewed at a dress rehearsal, there is a beautiful turning point partway through Try to Remember as it moves from a more clinical approach to the more intimate. It is here where the real connections between the three actors on stage takes flight and is wonderfully touching.

Try to Remember continues at the PAL Studio Theatre (581 Cardero St, Vancouver) as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Visit vancouverfringe.com for tickets and information.