The Sunset Syndrome at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

The Sunset Syndrome. Photo credit: Catherine Wenschlag

The Sunset Syndrome. Photo credit: Catherine Wenschlag

The Sunset Syndrome by Alison Neuman


An interview with Catherine Wenschlag.

Describe your show in one sentence.

Facing a diagnosis of dementia, Emily must make important end of life decisions.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description of your show?

Written as a tribute to the love between the playwright’s mother and father, The Sunset Syndrome explores how dementia affects both the person with it, and their loved ones.

What approach does The Sunset Syndrome take to the subject of dementia?

As the director, I feel the most important aspect of this story is the love and joy of this family. The fact that they had such a full life before dementia became a part of their world means they have something worth fighting for. As with any challenge, the need for everyone to work together to make the best of the situation is paramount. The Sunset Syndrome opens a window into how family dynamics work in good times and in bad.

How has The Sunset Syndrome evolved since its run as part of the 2016  From Cradle to Stage Festival?

Originally conceived as a one woman show, our playwright Alison Neuman workshopped the show with dramaturg Brian Dooley, and it evolved into an ensemble piece with six actors. Following the first production, Alison went back to the script and changed a couple of monologues into scenes between the main character and others. This has given the play an even clearer picture of the family relationships and, I think, made the play stronger. Also, because of scheduling conflicts, we had to recast one actor. Having a different person in the room has forced us all to rediscover the story – and not just try to recreate it.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

I know dementia may seem a heavy subject for the Fringe, but I hope people will grab this opportunity to see a strong cast tell a beautiful story about something everyone has experienced – or will, experience – directly.

The 36th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 17 – 27. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca .

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