Curiously creepy and distressingly cute, On Ageing is a collage of middle-aged, and old, people’s memories recounted by a cast of seven children aged between seven and 13 years on an all-white set that resembles an infantile Wooster Group playground.
Half way through a rather extended 70 minutes, the children start off-loading their own memories. But the disparity of meaning between speech and script is just the same: Fevered Sleep’s production, directed by David Harradine and Sam Butler, is an anodyne experiment with an attic full of properties, TV screens, microphones and cuddly toys.
The tea party atmosphere is complete when ten year-old Madeleine, having made an inventory of the clutter like a contestant on a game show, announces that today is her birthday (does she do so at every performance?); another girl hands a camera to the audience and requests a group picture (the Evening Standard critic obliged on opening night).
A seniors’ choir sings on tape in the background. The children relay their banal gobbets: skincare is important in middle age; later, it’s slippers that count. Children live in the present. This show imposes on them an ironic commentary of perspective, and tramples over their innocence.