Wine of India (Manchester)

Greater Manchester Fringe Festival is a forum for new talent and Wine of India contains plenty of that, says Julia Taylor.

Lass O’Gowrie, Manchester

Wine of India poster
Wine of India poster
© Jake Green

This play, written by Nigel Kneale and adapted for stage by Ross Kelly, was broadcast on BBC Radio’s The Wednesday Play in 1970 before being lost. Using an original BBC shooting script, Lass Productions and Scytheplays have revived it well.

And the directors Ross Kelly and Daniel Thackeray ensure the actors make the entire concept believable.
Have you ever wondered what might happen if people could remain young and fit forever?

How would it affect others? What about population control? In the year 2050 the government solve the problem by requiring people to agree to euthanasia on a set day. Most opt to die in their eighties. Why not one hundred or even later?

In eternal youth, people are allowed only two children each. Marriage has mostly been replaced by ‘pair bonds’
Today it is Will Packer’s turn to die. He is joined voluntarily by Julie (unusually they are married).

They attend their own funeral and say goodbye to youthful-looking family and friends in person and on video, before supping a fatal dose of the wine of India.

Quentin Knight as Adam, the undertaker, is an efficient organiser. I really liked Morag Peacock as Julie, a beautiful 77-year-old whose lip quivers as the fatal moment nears, and Taran Knight’s Will (originally played by Brian Blessed) who, aged 82, states “to be young all the time is wonderful”.

Then Bee (Carole Bardsley) appears. She is different and makes you think hard before the couple die peacefully together.

Enjoyable and poignant – Wine of India is worth a taste.

– Julia Taylor