by Erik Gedeon in a version by Adrian Laurance from a literal translation by Ian Black.
Nottingham Playhouse Wellington Circus NG11 5AF To 10 March 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat 3, 10 March 2.30pm, 8 March1.30pm.
Audio-described performances 7 March, 10 March 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 9 March.
Captioned 8 March 7.45pm.
Runs 2hr 20min. One interval.
TICKETS: 0115 9419419.
Review: Jen Mitchell 1 March.
Popular piece returns to the Playhouse for the third time and is still a must-see.
This song-drama, set in 2050, shows twilight-years residents of the Nottingham Playhouse Home for Resting Actors as, with no discernable plot, they make their own entertainment, delivered with style and gusto.
Sister George them in community singing – the patronising ‘We Clap our Hands’. When she leaves, the characters behind the mask of old age are revealed – and what characters they are.
The shuffling old man, who can barely walk, is revealed as a virtuoso pianist; the foul-mouthed, grey-haired woman once took part in protests, lived up a tree and camped in the market square; the senile, dippy, bewigged drama-queen, shocks the audience with her fantastic saxophone playing.
One highlight is the Laurel and Hardy-like routine between Mr Elkington and Mr Powell, pitting wits and strength against each other in a slow-motion tit-for-tat battle, until they plunge the Playhouse into darkness.
Delicate humour and humanity embody the piece’s bitter-sweet nature. Fear of growing old is brought home in this poignant, life-affirming production.
Mr Jardine and his wife treat the residents to a silent re-run of their magic routine that builds from the toaster being pulled out of the hat (you have to see it) to the unfortunate accidental removal of Ms Storey’s wig, leaving her exposed and humiliated. She uses Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to reveal her feelings and there is a definite change of moods as en masse, the residents face the audience and challenge them with the words, ‘With the lights out, it’s less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us’.
Mr Jardine attempts to lead his wife off as she takes curtain calls to an imagined audience, Mr Elkington once again wipes his mouth (a small, vital gesture expressive of old age), and shuffles off. Mr Powell (who does a red hot impression of Louis Prima) staggers away, as does Ms Little. Accomplished musician Mr Bednarczyk, accommodating all requests without complaint, plays everyone off to bed.
Giles Croft directs an utterly enjoyable evening’s entertainment, that’s a velvet-covered warning of what is to come – and a reminder to look at the experience beneath the wrinkles and walking sticks.
Sister George: Georgina White.
Mr Bednarczyk: Stefan Bednarczyk.
Ms Little: Rebecca Little.
Mr Powell: Marcus Powell.
Mr Elkington: John Elkington.
Mr Jardine: Mark Jardine.
Ms Storey: Claire Storey.
Director: Giles Croft.
Designer: Claire Thompson.
Lighting: Nick Morris.
Sound: Brew Baumohl.
Musical Director: Stefan Bednarczyk.
Choreographer: Adele Parry.
Literal Translator: Ian Black
Dramaturg: Gareth Morgan.