When my wife Molly was diagnosed with dementia she went into denial and I went into the bomb shelter. For Molly the denial went on for a very long time. Being me I quickly stepped out of the shelter. Life wasn’t easy but it was for living.
By the autumn of 2016 Molly was starting to acknowledge what was happening. At this time the bindweed of dementia had progressed quite far and I was by then cast into the role as carer. What choice did I have? And if this sounds like sour grapes it isn’t. I had no choice I wanted to care for her. I loved her and more than anything else in the world I wanted to make her time left with me, our family and friends a time with real quality. None of us are prepared for this role, none of us know how to face the challenge of dementia, none of us know just how much we can take on and cope with. The courses I was offered were great but they fell far short of what I really needed.
So over the time I was caring for Molly I kept notes, I thought, I wrote. Out of that came this show: “Orienteering“. A show which offers people a chance to roam off the beaten track of conventional dementia training. Hopefully a road map for people who may be feeling there is no hope, people feeling that the way ahead is closed. I am determined to help them see that dementia is not the end, it is the start of something new.
The first performance was on Sunday 24th June at the Bristol Improv Theatre. It is a one man show and as you follow my journey, special moments are underscored with my poetry; it also features music specially commissioned for “Orienteering“. You can read reviews and testimonials here and see pictures from shows here. If you are interested in hosting the show then do get in touch using the contact link on the menu above.
For performance dates please visit this page.
To book a show contact us here.
If you have seen the show and want to offer feedback then click here.
Scroll through some of the testimonial here:-
I knew that your piece had touched me deeply when I woke up angry the next morning and doing battle with Hilary. That evening she was playing a CD of constellation work when she called through to me "Didn't you have a disease when you were young that brought you close to death". When I said "Yes" she said "listen to this". It was for people who had been brought close to death by disease when young and the key point is that it's possible for a young person to be turned around to face Death instead of Life and if this has taken place it may take something like constellation work to turn around and put Death behind you and then visualise Life in front of you. When I heard all this I realised that Synchronicity had performed its usual miracle: I had witnessed your very moving personal journey - not into Death, but into Life and it's only as I write this that the tapestry is becoming revealed as my words disappear over the tiny box of "please write here"! I can't write all I need to write but I'll have a good chat with you about it. Suffice to say that without your wonderful show I wouldn't be making this huge change of direction in my life.
Such a great performance both honest and heartfelt. Thank you for letting us be part of it.
It was human, caring, real. Touching, funny, sad. Amazing - was in pieces from 10 minutes in until the end! Absolutely wonderful. Thank you for sharing.
One of the bravest performances I've seen for a very long time. And incredibly useful on so many levels. Lets hope we see a lot more work with this kind of depth, maturity and humour at the BIT in the future.
Great performance ... I laughed and cried ... Well done! I was caught by your performance from the moment you walked on that stage. The music, the narrative and the poems ...
We loved it Charlie and I think we all shed a tear ...and laughed too ! A big Thank you ...
I went to see an extremely profound performance by Charlie Markwick on love, loss, dementia and hope. Utterly brilliant.
What an absolute privilege it was to see your performance, thank you so much!
Thank you for your open, true and touching rendition. Thank you for sharing. Please never stop.
Thank you ❤️
Storytelling devices and poems were lovely. Loved the calm, easy transition from speaking to us directly from the stand to the poetry. "Hiding behind the elephant in the room" was a very powerful phrase for me, it describes it perfectly for me. The reference to Terry Pratchett's Zombie was also very illuminating. The "Where's Charlie" story did stay with me.Charlie's stories were a joy to listen to, his journey of discovery of a new perspective was inspiring.
Your story and storytelling was fierce and fearless.I couldn't take my attention away.The poems throughout were especially good and gave a very clear and concise insight into your specific experiences and what a carer might expect - Molly's three hands in particular.
I liked so much. Charlie is a skilful and captivating storyteller and a courageous, charming, touching, hilarious human. I would definitely see this show again AND recommend it to friends, those who are experiencing caring for someone with dementia.
I learnt a lot in a short time through moving and powerful storytelling and poetry.
Great, simple staging, lovely transition music, loved Charlie's outfit, loved the hat on/hat off opening and closing. Great pacing. Nice and satisfying transitions between sad and funny sections. Sensitive, clear delivery. Great read of the room.
I felt privileged to be part of the audience for this presentation at the Bristol Improv Theatre, by Charlie Markwick. I have often been accustomed, sadly, in my career as a doctor and psychotherapist, to speak to all sorts of people about painful and distressing things and I know how hard it can be, both to tell and hear about them. And yet doing it right adds immeasurably to the restoration of normality, even happiness.
Well - Charlie did it just right! He did not save us from from sharing the downsides and the pain for both of them in this account of their marriage, with the decline of Molly's health, with dementia and terminal illness. Nor did he deny her anything of her feisty and determined character, so that those of us who had not known her felt the reality nonetheless and mourned her gradual loss along with him. But even as her frailties were eating away the person he loved he could find matters to delight them both, and us.
His tenderness shines through, as does his ability to find a good story in everything! By this he draws out from the audience a deeper understanding and level of participation than, perhaps, they had imagined when they sat down. There was a delightful strand of humour running through his account, which encompassed the sadness at times almost with sweetness, yet not dismissing the terrible nature of the sorrow entwined with it. I believe that this helped us, as audience to engage with these difficult themes - dementia and death, perhaps among today's greatest fears. We will not easily forget the delightful buttermint saga!
This is a life experience rather than a show. It would be of great interest and benefit to professionals in this field and to patients themselves and carers. I almost hesitate to say that, in case future performances are confined to that band, this is a show that everyone should see and they will enjoy it. All ages, indeed all who share our common humanity, knowing how easily any of us may have to face these things one way or another - all of us will benefit from this presentation, which can be put on easily, I guess, anywhere that Charlie can be persuaded to go!
Elinor Kapp [MB.BS. DPM. FRCPsych. BA.] BIT (Bristol Improv Theatre) Sunday 24th June 2018
It showed how much caring and looking after someone takes over your life.
Showing how trivial things like taking a shower whilst looking after someone has to be planned and fitted in. A REAL EYE OPENER.
I liked all of it, tears and laughter XXXX
I liked the poems, the insight into Molly's personality, ins and outs of care-giving, what to do/say to help a carer. Wonderful, engaging delivery, happy and sad!
Wishes To Remain Anonymous
I liked just about everything. I felt that it conveyed your feelings and experiences in a very pure, direct way. I loved that it had a stamp of your personality on it. I don't often cry at the theatre, but damn!
I liked EVERYTHING! There needs to be more of this and people need to see it.
I liked everything - very beautiful show! Should have brought tissues. Very tearful.
I liked everything. The poetry is beautiful, tender and devastating. The storytelling is honest, brave and funny. The specific advice on caring for a loved on with dementia or supporting a carer were insightful, uncompromising and direct. I am grateful this show exists - thank you for creating it.
I liked your specific tips for caring for carers. Like avoiding the phrase "let me know how I can help", instead of offering concrete support.
I loved the personal aspect of the show. I felt as though I understood the love for your wife, and I found that extremely moving. I also like how you gave insight into how other might help carers.
An extraordinary, humbling and beautiful performance. By turns heart breaking and irresistibly beautiful. This is amazing. An over-used word in our society but I genuinely believe this can change the lives of the carers and the loved one of the carers.
I liked the depth of material and quality engagement of the show and the after conversation.
We liked everything, poetry, insight to Molly's life and dementia and how to interact with patients with disabilities. Well done and thanks for all your hard work.
Nick and Cheryl Spencer
Charlie’s performance of ‘Orienteering’ opened up a world which we rarely get to see, the love and care for his wife Molly shone through as he takes the audience on a spellbinding journey from laughter to tears to feeling hopeful and inspired. I recommend this show to everyone and think it would be helpful for anyone who knows anyone with dementia (probably everyone then?). Weeks after the show and Charlie and Molly's story rings in my ears, a wonderful performance, thank you.
Sophie Greenchester Orienteering- Bristol Improv Theatre
A very moving piece concerning the care of a loved one with dementia. Really useful coping strategies are woven with the daily realities of dealing with the condition ,but done so with love and humour. A compelling piece of work which is essentially a love story and visibly moved several members of the audience to tears. The Q and A session afterwards was very informative and although Charlie is not a professional in the field it clearly evoked a positive response from the professionals in the audience.
Andrea Jackson owner Bristol Improv Theatre Orienteering
Incredibly moving and informative - should be compulsory viewing and deserves a far wider audience
David Germaney Orienteering