ARTHUR had always fancied himself as a Sinatra. "And that song, at a moment like that. Well, it just doesn’t get much more perfect, does it?” he says in Matthew Seager’s play In Other Words.

Arthur and Jane call it "the incident" now: what happened when they first met. He said it was always part of his romantic plan, but they both know this is nonsense.

Here comes their chance to tell their story, as presented by Off the Middle Theatre Company at York Theatre Royal Studio tomorrow and Wednesday at 7.45pm, in a two-hander that journeys through 50 years of Arthur and Jane's relationship, jumping in and out of memories and experiencing, for brief moments, a failing mind as it loses its grip on reality.

Connected by the music of Ol' Blue Eyes, this intimate, humorous, moving love story explores the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and the transformative power of music in our lives. Brought to life by Seager as Arthur and Angela Hardie as Jane, under the direction of Paul Brotherston, In Other Words has its roots in Seager's student days at Leeds University, five years ago.

"When I was studying theatre and performance, I took part in sensory stimulation workshops at the Berkley Court care home at Harehills," says Matthew. "The particular thing we did, in relation to this piece, was book-end each session by playing pieces of music that resonated with the patients' past. Suddenly they would go from maybe saying nothing or not knowing who they were to singing almost every word of the song. That was the spark that led me to write the play."

In Seager's story, Arthur suffers from Alzheimer's disease, but Seager encountered people with differing conditions of dementia. "It was a mixture; some no longer spoke, or had temporal dementia, or were experiencing hallucinations; it wasn't a case of one condition fits all, but almost without exception, they all responded to music, because of the connection between memory and music we all make," he says.

Seager directed the first performances of In Other Words at a Glasgow drama festival while studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. "I pitched it to the drama school and I'm so grateful they let me do it, rehearsing after classes," he says.

Since then, his grandmother has been diagnosed with vascular dementia in her 90s, making the play all the more poignant for Seager, now 27. Meanwhile, Paul Brotherston has brought a new pair of director's eyes to a play that depicts with clarity the thick fog of dementia but does so on an uncluttered stage of only a carpet, two Parker Knoll armchairs and a lamp. "The play opens with the same image it closes with: Jane trying to put Arthur's shoes on when he has dementia, and then goes back to when they fell in love, telling their story chronologically," says Matthew.

Amid the sadness, humour plays its part. "I think every day has humorous moments. Jane even says, 'I'm sorry, if I didn't laugh, I don't know what I'd do'," says Matthew.

Tickets are on sale at 01904 623568 or at

York Press:

Matthew Seager with Angela Hardie in In Other Words

MATTHEW Seager will lead a Music Detective Skills Workshop on Wednesday from 2.30pm to 4.30pm in Workshop 2 at the De Grey Rooms, next to York Theatre Royal.

"Music that is personal to us can be a hugely valuable tool in enriching the lives of those suffering with forms of dementia," says Matthew, who explores this topic on Off The Middle's production In Other Words. 

Seager, artistic director of Off the Middle and writer of In Other Words, will be joined by The Music Detective from the charity Playlist For Life, Andy Lowndes, to guide you through an interactive workshop on Music Detective skills.

"During this two-hour workshop you will hear about, and practise, some of the Music Detective skills developed by Playlist For Life, giving you a deeper understanding of how personalised music can be a powerful tool for people living with dementia," says Matthew.

"Using some of your favourite music, you will begin developing a personalised Music Detective journal and consider how this may be incorporated into the care and support of someone living with dementia."

The workshop is free but tickets must be booked on 01904 623568 or at