Presented by Crowded Kitchen Players at the Charles A. Brown Ice House, 56 River St., Bethlehem, through June 16,  regional playwright Paul Kodiak’s moving and thoughtful play takes an unflinching look at the devastating effect mental illness can have on loved ones.

John Corl is heartbreaking as Army veteran Oscar, who is the one struggling with dementia. Corl skillfully conveys Oscar’s inner turmoil as he grapples with his overwhelming memories of his time in World War II that threaten to make him relive the war.

As Oscar’s wife Lucy, Pamela Wallace also effectively conveys a wide range of emotions. She is in love with her husband of more than 50 years but is helpless and frustrated when she feels like she can no longer find “her Oscar.”

Audiences get a poignant glimpse of Corl’s Oscar before dementia began taking over, in a flashback from four years earlier. In the flashback, Oscar is sweet, playful and romantic with an attentive Lucy when they have a rendezvous on a park bench after Oscar gets off work..

Another flashback two years later, shows the Oscar’s mental acuity is starting to be affected. Now retired, Oscar gets lost in the park on the way to the familiar bench where he and Lucy always met; and, at one point gets confused and forgets he is no longer working. Corl deftly shows Oscar’s conflicting emotions. One moment he is visibly confused and lost. Then Corl demonstrates Oscar’s obvious embarrassment as he tries to just brush off his out-of-character mistakes.

But it is in the most recent timeline, that Oscar’s descent into dementia is most unsettling. Reality becomes distant and the audience, along with Oscar,  is not sure what is real and what isn’t real.

Wallace’s Lucy is alternately concerned and angry as her husband rebuffs her and questions her love one minute and then desperately calls for her, child-like. Lucy’s anger leads her to blame Oscar and abandon him when she is at her wits end, leaving him lost and helpless. Oscar’s fleeting moments of clarity are a heartbreaking reminder of the man who is being left behind.

The couple’s giddy neighbor Agnes, played with raw, frantic energy by Marcy Hake Repp, is a lonely woman desperate for attention, who seems to be living vicariously through the couple, as she urges Lucy to relive her and Oscar’s first meeting at the Statue of Liberty.

The second act has some disturbing moments that grow out of Oscar’s growing paranoia and his retreat  back into the war years. The interchange between Oscar, who thinks he is still shooting wartime enemies and Agnes, who is afraid of a mouse in the closet, emphasizes the complete lack of understanding between the two. Agnes' final act of desperation is both pathetic and sad, while Oscar is totally unaware of the what’s happening in the present, at this point.

Bruce Brown’s thoughtful direction highlights the growing change in Oscar as the play moves back and forth between the past and present.

The play is prefaced by a short video of JR Reed, Lehigh County Executive Director of Office of Aging and Adult Services, who discusses some of the programs available for the aging community. 

There will be information from Lehigh County Aging and Adult Services in the lobby for anyone interested in learning more about dementia and its effects on seniors and their families and friends.

Tickets are $20.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. June 14, 15; and 2 p.m. June 9 and 16,

For information, call 610-704-6974, or go to