WHEN that unwelcome visitor Alzheimer's came into our family decades ago, we didn't know what it was back then ... and how it would change our lives.

I have never forgiven it.

Since then, I have educated myself more and subsequently supported research into beating this cruel disease.

The illness continues to be the subject of television soaps, documentaries and an Oscar award-winning film.

In this touring this adaptation of Lisa Genova's best-selling novel, it is no longer a taboo topic – and I applaud the fact it is talked and written about and is in the public domain much more.

Still Alice, a Leeds Playhouse production directed by David Grindley, is a powerful, potent and sensitive piece of theatre that is as uplifting as much as it is bleak.

Alice Howlands (a stunning performance by the accomplished Sharon Small) is stubborn.

She is a funny, life-loving, influential academic.

Her successful professional and close family life is shattered when she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of 50.

How do you cope – the answers aren't always found in books.

The dilemma here is how long can this fiercely intelligent mum of two grown-up children and wife to an equally-driven ambitious husband remain independent?

It is set in a huge family kitchen that disappears as the play - like the disease – progresses.

Alice's memory fades in this 90-minute play, but not her evaluation of what was happening to her.

There is no interval and personally I would have welcomed a short break to sit and think about what I had just seen and was about to see.

It is a lot to take in.

Eva Pope is Alice's black t-shirted 'inner self'.

A clever device that takes the audience inside the mind of the once vibrant and now emotionally drained persona.

A huge backdrop screen relays the time scale as the story unfolds over three years.

This is also a celebration of life and achievement.

As well as coping with an uncertain tomorrow the characters cope with the realisation that sometimes the only thing to look forward to is the past?

There are flashes of humour amid the soul–searching.

It is a play in the safe hands of a seven-strong cast conveying so many delicate issues that many people have to confront on a daily basis.

Globe verdict: Heart-wrenching - Four stars

The production is on until Saturday. Tickets from the box office on 0151 709 4776.