At its core, “Complications from a Fall,” running now through Nov. 12 at Portland Stage Company, is a poignant look at life’s late chapter – particularly, the story of Elizabeth (Maureen Butler), bedridden from a fall and grappling with early signs of dementia, and the people struggling to care for her.

Butler, a Portland Stage Affiliate Artist, portrays Elizabeth in three dimensions: sometimes lost in failed memory, sometimes lost in secure ones and often outrageously funny amid both. It’s a testament to Butler’s abilities that the repetition so often characteristic of dementia patients’ speech is realistically a bit maddening and sad, yet often also quite humorous.

At its edges, though, the play borrows from family-sitcom tropes, which somewhat undermines its power. The setup is a weekend when Elizabeth’s middle-age daughter Helen (Eva Kaminsky) has enlisted her somewhat younger brother, Teddy (Erik Saxvik), to temporarily take her place as their mother’s central caregiver so that she can deliver a paper on Henrik Ibsen’s plays at an academic conference.

Helen appears to be single and childless, and her role entails an especially lonely job since the departure of the family’s in-home health aide, Lucy (Katie O. Solomon). Teddy, meanwhile, isn’t exactly a ne’er-do-well – he’s in an apparently successful hipster-hillbilly band – but he doesn’t seem to ever have had a care in the world outside himself. Lucy, meanwhile, has been let go because Helen believes she has stolen a number of Elizabeth’s valuables.

Helen is understandably exasperated amid the intensity of the situation, and she’s quite eager to leave, not least because she’s hoping to reignite a brief romance she once enjoyed with a fellow Ibsen scholar at a previous symposium. But in milking her desperation for laughs – we see Helen’s exploits in a series of well-executed sideshow vignettes – playwright Kate Hawley operates on some awfully well-trod territory. Teddy is a hapless innocent, Lucy is a beautiful young angel and Helen – a woman like so many in our society who are financially and emotionally dedicated to the care of family members – is misguided and a nag.

Most people in the audience will be well ahead of all of these characters when it comes to a few of the story’s plot twists, and many people familiar with the complications of dementia will question certain details, particularly regarding how Elizabeth’s jewelry has disappeared.

Nevertheless, the play’s pace and humor make it highly enjoyable. Anita Stewart’s set design is striking and cleverly wrought, and the actors have chemistry.

The story will resonate with many – not just because the aging Baby Boomer population is confronting these issues head on, both as patients and as caregivers (with Generation X not far behind), but also because the story delves into a family’s secrets and demonstrates how much we lose when we risk leaving our truths untold and unexamined. When memory is damaged, memories risk damage too, and it’s not always so clear what’s being divulged.

Daphne Howland is a freelance writer based in Portland.