If you’re older than sixty, by all means, go and see this play. However, if you happen to be a university student, you will find yourself to be the youngest audience member to see Forever Young by about forty years.
The play is an exploration of life in a nursing home in 2050. The actors are essentially playing themselves but when they are much older. The plot is relatively simple in the first half; it is an ordinary day but for the fact that it is interspersed with random bouts of rock and roll. In the second half, I am not quite sure if I can tell you quite what happened. The second half was a blur, from Shakespeare to Latin to murder – it was really quite eventful but, at the same time, nonsensical.
The play starts with an exhaustive entrance of the six elderly people. I felt the same frustration as being caught behind an old person when trying to get on the bus, but this time I was made to watch the struggle, attentively, for a long six-minute beginning. In entered the six stereotypes of the older generation: the Cursing One, the Shitting One, the Quiet One, the Bald one, the One with the Bad Back and the One that Couldn’t Breathe. And with them came all of the well-known jokes that accompany their stereotypes.
The second half was a blur, from Shakespeare to Spanish to murder.
The thing that made the play worth a watch was its use of music. The brilliant piano player Stefan Bednarczyk carried the show from song to song. A particular favourite was a touching duet of ‘I Got You, Babe’ by Sonny and Cher, adorably reconstructed for the cute elderly couple the Bald One and the One with the Bad Back. This brief look at long-lasting enduring love and sweet sentimentality was a grateful relief from the panto-esque humour of the rest of the show.
I will not say that I did not laugh at all. I did. When the pensioners were passing around a “doobie”, the slapstick humour was for a moment paused. Here, other styles of comedy were engaged in – admittedly, still of a very silly kind, but were indeed very funny.
It was everything you didn’t want to see your grandparents talking about or doing.
Often, the ridiculous humour and downright horrendous things the pensioners were saying would cause the audience to erupt into hysterical laughter. In particular, the Cursing One (Rebecca Little) was known for her outrageous one liners, including talk of her clitoris piercing and her claim once she’d had a drink that it was “in through the hatch, out through the snatch”!
It was everything you didn’t want to see your grandparents talking about or doing. It was an outrageous play, and it was overall taken very well by our surrounding audience. It was funny – but the slow-paced, slapstick humour is an unusual mix and a required taste that was just simply not to my liking. I’d argue to not go with your Gran, but maybe suggest that she go and see it with Granddad.
‘Forever Young’ is running till Saturday 7th February. For more information, see here
Images credited to Robert Day