by Erik Gedeon adapted by Giles Croft and Stefan Bednarczyk.
Nottingham Playhouse Wellington Circus NG1 5AF To 19 February 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm no performance 14 Feb. Mat 10, 17 Feb 1.30pm; 12, 19 Feb 2.30pm.
Audio-described 16 Feb, 19 Feb 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 18 Feb.
Post-show Discussion 15 Feb.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0115 941 9419.
Review: Alan Geary: 4 February.
Even better than a year ago..
Forever Young was an outstanding show a year ago (see Jen Mitchell’s review in our Archive) and it still is.
It’s intended to be set in whatever venue it happens to find itself – in this case of course Nottingham Playhouse. But we’re in 2050; the place has become a check-out lounge for retired actors, all of whom just happen to have appeared at the Playhouse at the turn of the century. Give or take a generous helping of send-up, the actors are playing themselves thirty-nine years hence, an intriguing conceit which works well.
Anyone familiar with residential homes will recognise the set: Rebecca Little (she was in Tracy Beaker), John Elkington (a lot of pantomimes), Mark Jardine (Garage Band) and Claire Storey, the aged actors, sit strung out in a row along the wall, precisely as are residents in your real home. This time they’re joined by Marcus Powell (last year’s Twelfth Night) and Alexandra James (recent pantos). Stefan Bednarczyk (Dick Barton) is, once again, positively brilliant at the piano; he’s no mean actor either.
There are two new musical numbers as well and some additional material. But top sketch still has to be the Laurel and Hardy-type slow-motion tit-for-tat routine from Elkington and Powell. It ends with a pair of mild-mannered goldfish being fried and the Playhouse being blacked out.
The evening haemorrhages bad taste. James, a striking singer, delivers a patronising, yet recognisably realistic, occupational therapy song called ‘We Clap With Our Hands’ – what else would we clap with? Later, clad in a becoming black dress, she treats the hapless inmates to a portentous parody of Handel called ‘Dying’. Both of these are Bednarczyk originals.
Some classic pop belters are done, for instance ‘I Got You Babe’ from Jardine and Storey, ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll’ and ‘I Will Survive’. Throughout proceedings the ashes of Playhouse panto legend Kenneth Alan Taylor – “He’ll never be behind us again” – are in an urn on the piano.
This isn’t simply a toe-tapping laugh generator: it’s moving and life-affirming. Directed again by Giles Croft, this is a definite must-see.
Sister Alex: Alexandra James.
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: Drew Baumohl.
Musical Director: Stefan Bednarczyk.
Choreographer: Adele Parry.