Ayub Khan Din's Notes on Falling Leaves is a short, elegiac play about a young man losing his mother to dementia. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, London, on 11 February 2004.
The characters in the play, called simply Man and Woman, occupy a stage covered in fallen leaves, with a single park bench. The man (aged 26) has come to visit his mother (early fifties) in her care home, and has spent the previous night in the old family house before it is cleared by the council and offered to another family. He describes taking a new girlfriend to the former family home the previous night and having sex with her. But his repeated nervous coughs and throat-clearings suggest a man desperately ill at ease, and though he knows his mother can't understand a word he's saying, talking to her helps him. When he imagines what's going on now in his mother's brain, she begins to speak...
In his Foreword to Ayub Khan Din Plays: One (Nick Hern Books, 2014), the author notes that his own mother 'was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at an early age and eventually the disease claimed her life after three years. I always found it difficult during the family visits to see her. In my mind, I was never quite sure what it was I was actually visiting'.
The Royal Court premiere was directed by Marianne Elliot and starred Ralf Little and Pam Ferris.