Plays aimed at older patrons tend to either be farcical or terribly
old-fashioned offering the audience a world that they can relate to through
rose tinted spectacles. John Retallack's new play avoids all of the usual
pitfalls and deals with long term bereavement, broken hearts and loneliness
encountered by four elderly citizens who meet at a tea dance.
Sylvia (Linda Broughton) who once ran a dance school in Oldham recalls her
loveless marriage to cad and dancing partner, Pierre. Audrey (Anita Wright)
realises that she is ready to love and cha cha again after exorcising ghosts
from her past. Victor (Graham Bill) loved his late wife so much that he
finds it impossible to let go of her. Roy (Gilbert Wynne) is looking to
recapture his youthful days through dance, conversation and friendship. Each
likeable character takes the audience on a lovely journey which although
painful and slightly maudlin never fails to engage.
Nicola Weeks, Joanna Morton, Matthew Day and Ashley Green play the
couples in their youthful days through the power of movement. They have no
dialogue but manage to convey feelings of love, sex and companionship with
real feeling. The four leads portray the sense of emptiness that grief
brings and also feelings of displacement in a world that has moved on
leaving them all behind. Watching each of them connect at the dance
realising that they are not alone is delightful to watch.
provides many funny moments as Sylvia finds the strength to move on via
talking to her dead husband as if were still there. Bill conveys poignancy
as Victor tries to let go of his one true love. The audience on the night I
attended really felt his pain.
Retallack's script contains many funny lines but lapses into
sentimentality to frequently. Thankfully the cast inject pathos into the
proceedings which dilutes this sugary approach.
Jack Murphy and
Retallack's direction is at times slow paced. During the first act the
play shuffles underneath a glitter ball, leaving the audience requiring a
foxtrot to get things moving. Thankfully the second act jives into life
providing more rhythm.
If you enjoyed the recent TV series Strictly Come Dancing and you
want to see the faces and souls behind the satin and sequins, this won't get
you into a spin but it will leave you gently stirred.