SEEING Graham Robertson’s finely tuned performance, ably supported by a very notable cast of Oliver Baudert, Joanna Richards, Micki Beckett, Lainie Hart and Paul Jackson, made for a most enjoyable evening of theatre.
Well nuanced characterisations kept the audience involved with the story of an old man with a still powerful intellectual capacity confronted with the decay of his whole universe. Clever and witty text provided enough tension and engagement to hold a current audience for a play first performed in 1985.
By providing a sentimental scenario of flawed human beings living and /or working in a nursing home, Labey’s text engages everyone who has lived long enough to experience issues of ageing and aged care.
Designed for a popular market, the play may seem flippant and dated in its treatment of gender relationships with all female influence being ancillary to the male experience. Still, there were very powerful moments where the old man expressed feelings that were below the rituals of social discourse. This allowed him to reveal his own frustrated awareness of inevitability. Robertson was masterly in these moments; as was Baudert in his descent into fearful dementia.
The play is from another universe to Romeo Castellucci’s controversial and contemporary work on similar themes “On The Concept of the Face”, which caused riots in France last year. The shaping of the old man’s universe is constructed from military experience and is schoolboyish in its banality. A lack of a more penetrating scenario meant the play was very predictable and tended to drag in the second half; though it still provided a satisfying conclusion.