Silver Lining by Sandi Toksvig – New Wolsey Theatre until Saturday 18th March
Oh no, not another play about old people’s homes! Yes this is a well worn furrow – but Sandi Toksvig’s new play is both hilarious and touching in equal measure – and its originality lies in the fact that it’s an all woman cast (apart from one token man), who’s wry observations on life make two and a quarter hours just fly by.
The premise is that the UK is experiencing an apocalyptic storm which is flooding large parts of London and the South East. Trapped on the second floor of their old people’s home, five ladies and their Carer gradually come to realise that they have been abandoned to their fate by the authorities – and they must either sink or swim – literally.
Set all in one room over 24 hours this could be a difficult one to sustain the momentum of – but Director Rebecca Gatward has assembled a stellar cast of experienced older actors who are obviously having the time of their life, aided by a script that sparkles with wit, humour and a few surprises.
Rachel Davies plays Maureen – scatty ex actress and all round worry guts, Maggie McCarthy and Joanna Munro are warring sisters May and June and Sheila Reid, (the one from the TV series Benidorm) plays Gloria – railing against old age and the wasted years in her leopard print jump suit – but refusing to get left behind as she surfs the net with her pink smart phone. Into their mix comes Hope, a young black girl from Croydon, who is only doing a temporary carer job but ends up trapped with the ladies.
Its Hope who discovers a fifth resident in one of the bedrooms – a woman with dementia (played with a twinkle by Amanda Walker), who is named St Michael by the ladies after the label in her clothes but who’s random interjections and interesting collection of articles, rack up the humour a notch further.
The first half literally whips along as the storm rages outside the windows and the fractious nature of the women’s relationships surface.
The second half explores each of their lives with a monologue which slightly slows the pace – but adds further layers to what could have been just another OAP sitcom but ends up much more than that.
The plot is slightly surreal but the dialogue is extremely well written, the characters well rounded and totally believable, and the humour continually bubbles to the surface.
Some of the content is a little racy, and there is a bit of strong language – but this is a very entertaining play – and one I would strongly recommend.