Theatre review: Moon River at the Pleasance Theatre

18:54 09 June 2012

Moon River at the Pleasance

Moon River at the Pleasance

Archant

Examination of old age is a drama that stays with you, writes Jenisa Altink-Thumbadoo

Set in a Chingford pensioners’ home, Seiriol Davies’ first full-length script is an insightful examination of the concept of being old.

Moon River is inspired by the writer’s experience of the world of bingo halls, lunch clubs and tea dances – a world in which he immersed himself to gain a real understanding of what life is like for the over-75s.

The performers span a wide range of ages, encouraging the audience to suspend their pre-conceptions about the elderly and adding depth to the characters.

Julia Voce is convincing as 87-year-old Glad, who believes herself to be the only sane one trapped amongst a delightful menagerie of personalities and their foibles: righteous Sandy; mute Esther; glamourpuss Ingrid craving that next sherry; livewire Mary fantasising about the next shag and the endearing Ron who simply unplugs his hearing aid and embraces his journey towards the unknown.

As the play progresses, the shaky foundations of this sanity are exposed and Glad’s fragile mental state culminates in a surreal and harrowing climax. The visual effects in this dramatic piece are worth a special mention for their role in conveying her chaotic cerebral universe.

Initially, one may feel that Moon River is let down by its haphazard storytelling, but the narrative works well in communicating the oscillation between mundane and mayhem.

It was a production that stayed with me long after I left the theatre and, following this poignant debut, I will be awaiting another Seiriol Davies script with interest. Three stars.

* Moon River was at the Pleasance in Carpenters Mews, N7.

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