FringeReview Scotland 2014
This is a theatrical masterpiece on the effects of aging which takes us from George’s youth through to being caught in a home from which he wishes to escape; all in the time it takes for him to spend a few days there. Through mask, movement and the exceptional use of theatrical arts we get the concepts, gasp at the inhumanity and laugh at the fortitude of our trapped elderly.
This is how theatre can make a difference to the topics that it tackles. We begin with three people at the back making masks that are given to four characters that enter stage right. The lighting is atmospheric and mysterious. From there we meet George, on his way to see his wife who has given birth to their daughter. He is stopped by an old man in the street who tangles himself round George and then reveals that he is him as an older person. Upon arrival we find that George is not at the hospital but at the nursing home; not meeting his wife but his grown up daughter. It is here that we meet the full horror of that transformation from someone assured and confident to being the old man who has been placed in a safe place. The three nursing staff, with care, then turn him from being his young self to masking him as the older self transforms us from that confusion to the older George. From here we meet the rest of the residents and their desire to escape the mundanity, the drudgery and the sheer lack of stimulating care in their every day environment.
As this a co production and part of Luminate 2014 it comes with many parents; all should be equally proud. The improvisation and research has provided one of the most fantastic narratives that is not just telling a story; it uses theatre to inform, educate and entertain. Crisply directed with effects – masks and lighting in particular – that add much to our understanding of this poignant story they all have created a piece of theatre that truly demonstrates how theatre can illuminate in ways that other forms cannot. In particular the transformation scene for George where he goes from being his younger self to being his older self is simply inspired
It would be hard to separate performances from this ensemble piece as it does manage to deliver an exquisite collaboration between all those onstage. At times haunting, always engaging it may give some people who are care givers in nursing homes awkward moments but it also has authenticity at its heart. From one of the nursing staff being new and idealistic whilst the other two may be more “battle hardened” you still feel they care. The throw away lines, conversational small talk and general insignificances of their lives are beautifully observed.
I came away from this marvelling at the power of theatre and thankful, both for the collaborative nature of such an international piece of theatre and the focus that Luminate puts upon our society. Such Festivals allow us to stop and stare, despite the uncomfortable message that is relayed it has a truly breath taking and transformational effect – at least for the length of the Festival. If it should last and we do ask of ourselves the questions that pieces of theatre like Tomorrow demand in terms of what is real care then it is worthwhile. If not, then as a piece of theatre it deserves its place amongst the worthy reasons as to why we cherish our arts.