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Latitude 2014

The Centenarians

Look Left Look Right

Genre: Film

Venue: The Little Shed, Latitude Festival


Low Down

 Look Left Look Right interviewed several centenarians about their lives, and what has kept them going for so long.


This was a marvellous little film from verbatim theatre company Look Left Look Right, interviewing several centenarians about their lives, their pasts and asking what kept them young. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and had thought there may be some live action performance based on the interviews, as the company had done with their excellent production The Caravan. However, this was just a film, though the audience were all invited to file up onstage at the start and help themselves to a nice cup of tea and a selection of biscuits and mini Battenberg cakes!

I’m not sure whether the company have designs on taking the film and producing a live performance from it, it certainly deserves a wider audience in some form, but there is definitely something important about seeing the faces and mannerisms of those speaking, which could be lost if it became verbatim theatre. What I most liked about the film was that it didn’t patronise, coddle or even exemplify the elderly people interviewed. They were respected and respectable for who they are, and I for one wanted to meet each and every one of them!

I also liked the way that the old people were given space just to talk about their lives and what was and had been important to them. They were upbeat interviews and there was none of what you might expect from interviews with elderly people – that being talk of illness, forgetfulness and loss. Whilst I am sure that these are all features of the interviewee’s lives, it was refreshing that this was not dwelt on for the project, and instead we were able to see these elderly people as interesting, lively, human beings who are worth getting to know – this being in stark contrast to the way elderly people are so often viewed by society.

My absolute favourite interview was with the incredible Midge, who didn’t look a day over 80, but was in fact 102, and who was shown pottering around the town where she lived, doing her shopping, on her own and without even needing a walking stick – incredible. There was also the first interview with an incredibly glamorous lady with amazing skin, and when asked to what she attributed her long life, she remarked that it had been a life of moderation – watching her weight, and not indulging in cakes. Which is a bit of a shame for those of us who like a cake or two and had designs on that letter from the queen!


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