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Committed to be together in sickness and in health, Sally has cared for Raymond since his life-changing diagnosis.  But then she too falls ill, and he doesn't want to leave her alone.  {Spillikin} sees a real-world robot called Robothespian taking the stage as Raymond's creation, his last gift and companion for his wife.  But can a machine with a husband's memories gain her trust and acceptance, and allow him to help her from beyond the grave?

A man with a computer bends over a robot in a wheelchair, sitting in Sally's front room; she can't remember his name, but he tells her he used to work with her husband.  She asks if Raymond is at a conference, but the man avoids the question and boots the robot up.  Announcing the time and date, the robot seamlessly completes the scene-setting, as machine and human are left alone to get to know each other.

Switching between the late 1970s and the near future, we see crucial moments from Raymond and Sally's life: how they meet, how they find out about cerebrospinal ataxia type III (their nickname for it being the titular Spillikin), how they become a journalist and an engineer and why on Earth their wedding reception was in a Wimpy.  Though Sally "looses more and more words" and clearly gets more confused as time goes on, the dialogue remains engaging and cleverly avoids feeling repetitive.  I especially loved the use of books, reflecting how more and more vocabulary escapes her as the shelves empty.

And perhaps surprisingly, the robot is no gimmick; while he never pretends to be human, his kindly expressive face and compassionate character help us warm to him.  Within the world of the play, the same characteristics strongly underline the love of the creator for his ailing wife.  His gentle questioning and enthusiasm for reminiscing will be familiar to anyone who has cared for someone with memory problems, while also cleverly serving to shift the action back to the 1970s. 

With each era's scenes concentrated on different sides of the stage, actors did occasionally miss the lighting or stray too close to the incorrect tableau.  And at an hour and twenty minutes, the length and pace of the play doesn't quite match the rhythm of the Fringe; it is, perhaps, designed to work best as a mainstream theatre production.

But still, it's a tear-jerking, beautiful and innovative show which explores love and loss, while touching on how technology can change our lives and relationships.  And life with Alzheimer's is tackled exceptionally well - with Helen Ryan's powerful performance truly capturing the frustrations, anger and guilt of loosing yourself and taking it out on those closest to you.