by Erik Gedeon adapted by Giles Croft and Stefan Bednarczyk from a literal translation by Ian Black.
Nottingham Playhouse Wellington Circus NG1 5AF To 7 February.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat 31 Jan 2.30pm, 5 Feb 1.30pm.
Audio-described 4 Feb.
BSL Signed 6 Feb.
Captioned 5 Feb 7.45pm.
TICKETS: 0115 9419419.
then Coliseum Theatre Fairbottom Street Ol1 3SW 4-21 March 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat 14, 18, 21 Mar 2.30pm.
Audio-described 17 Mar.
Post-show Discussion 19 Mar.
Review: Jen Mitchell 31 Jan.
Runs 2hr 30min. One interval.
Freshened-up,the black humour still entertains and surprises on its fourth revival at the Playhouse.
Through this song-drama, set in 2050, we meet a cast in their twilight years as residents of the Nottingham Playhouse home for retired actors, making their own entertainment with style and gusto.
The opening scene is largely played in silence as the residents take-up their positions; unhurried as they slowly and carefully reach their seats for the evening’s entertainment.
The terrifying but glamorous Sister George leads some community singing. When she leaves the room, characters are revealed, their seething frustrations at age and various infirmities bubbling out.
Through music we see the people they once were. Rebecca Little is a wonderfully foul-mouthed theatrical lady with an acerbic wit and happy memories. Still raunchy, she engages in good-natured attempts to grope male residents throughout the evening. Her poignant rendition of ‘Barbie Girl’ leaves us squirming with embarrassment while laughing at the absurdity of the situation, as her wooden leg is accidentally knocked off.
With the unassuming manner of an ex-hippy, John Elkington passes round a spliff in a beautifully-choreographed ‘Sweet Dreams are Made of This’, sequence. One of many highlights is the Laurel and Hardy routine between Elkington and Tim Frater, a tit-for-tat slow-motion battle.
Mr Superville silently re-runs his magic routine, building from a toaster being pulled out of a hat to the unfortunate accidental removal of his partner’s wig, leaving her exposed and humiliated. There is a definite change of mood as, en masse, the residents face the audience, shocking them into uncomfortable silence with the words, “With the lights out, it’s less dangerous. Here we are, now entertain us.”
The evening is full of surprises: a shuffling old man is revealed as a virtuoso pianist; the foul-mouthed, grey-haired woman was once a protester, living up a tree and camped in the market square in a tent; the senile, dippy, bewigged drama-queen, surprises the audience with her trumpet playing.
Giles Croft directs what continues to be a remarkable piece of theatre – a salient lesson to all, a velvet-covered warning of what is to come and a reminder to think about the experience beneath the wrinkles and walking sticks.
Sister George: Georgina White.
Mr Bednarczyk: Stefan Bednarczyk.
Ms Little: Rebecca Little.
Mr Fraterl: Tim Frater.
Mr Elkington: John Elkington.
Mr Superville: Dale Superville.
Ms Darcy: Clara Darcy.
Director: Giles Croft.
Designer: Rachel Jacks.
Lighting: Nick Morris.
Sound: Brew Baumohl.
Musical Director: Stefan Bednarczyk.
Choreographer: Adele Parry.
Dramaturg: Gareth Morgan.