Writer: Steve Wood
Director: Danusia Iwaszko
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Theatre is often obsessed with the new. The latest new writer held up as the shining voice of a new generation. Steve Wood’s You’re Never Too Old unashamedly plays to a much different demographic, an audience who have experienced life but still hope there is more to explore.
It’s a deceptively simple tale – one man, one woman and a park bench. There are echoes of Waiting For Godot but here the protagonists know all too well what they are waiting for.
Ada and Tommy meet on the bench – she bemoaning the cost of the bag of chips she is eating, he swigging from a bottle. They seem an unlikely couple but there’s a warmth to them, both slightly lost in the hurly-burly of modern life and both hankering for a return to more gentle times.
As they swap ‘secrets’ Ada recounts thecentre piece of the narrative, thetale of how she journeyed from Manchester to London to see her estranged grown up son. The level of their relationship is made clear when she tells us that he sent her a one way ticket – an unstamped ticket that his manager had used the previous week. The trip becomes something of a turning point for Ada as she reflects that she needs to live life and stop living in the past.
Wood’s script is a reflection on the everyday, it is gentle and well observed, however, although there are moments of poignancy, it never quite feels as if its tackling the real issue.
There’s real chemistry between Ruth Madoc and Ian Lavender as the unlikely bench companions. Madoc takes the bulk of the dramatic thread while Lavender provides the witty one-liners. The characters are nicely drawn though Madoc’s performance at times verges towards melodrama and would benefit from being dialled back a couple of notches.
Danusia Iwaszko’s direction is somewhat static, leaving the pair glued to the bench for much of the hour long piece. As such one is left pondering what a theatrical setting brings to the piece and if it would actually be better served as a radio drama.
This is a gentle hour that sparks resonance with many in the audience. It is by no means an unpleasant hour but you can’t help feeling that Wood’s script takes the middle ground to easily and that there is a much more interesting story about loneliness bubbling just beneath the surface.
Runs until 27 September and then tours