by Charlotte Tomlinson
As moving as it’s hilarious, Forever Young is set in 2050, in a theatre converted into a retirement home for elderly actors. The stage is set for a slapstick comedy based around the various foibles and eccentricities of those who live there, all of whom are seemingly determined to grow old disgracefully.
As with previous years, the characters are well known Playhouse actors, who portray the older versions of themselves. In this particular show, we meet some of the company members who appeared in the Playhouse’s 2014 pantomime, Sleeping Beauty. The familiar faces include John Elkington, playing the flatulent and scarecrow-haried Mr. Elkington, whose more riotous moments include passing around a spliff to liven up the group’s performance of Sweet Dreams.
The integration of a host of classic and new songs makes the show flow along seamlessly, aided by the excellent Mr. Bednarczyk on the piano, who is actually one of the show’s adapters.
The in-jokes will not be lost on Nottingham Playhouse devotees, but there’s much that even theatre newbies will love. The music really is fantastic – we’re treated to numbers ranging from the cheesy pop classic Barbie Girl, during which the performer Ms. Little hilariously reveals her prosthetic leg, to a rousing, confrontational rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.
This mash up of old and new, of action and music, and of dancing and fighting may sound like an odd mix, but it’s clear that the director Giles Croft hasn’t just thrown all of this together for the sake of it. It all adds to the overall air of poignant hilarity. Yes, there’s not much of a plot. But nevertheless, the show flows perfectly.
Piercing through the slapstick comedy, the snippets of Shakespeare, and the terrible magic tricks are some truly positive messages about growing old. As one of the actors tellingly sings: Youth is like diamonds in the sun, and diamonds are forever.
Especially heartwarming is the relationship between Ms. Darcy and Mr. Superville, who have their love to sustain them through the show, and beyond.
Writer: Erik Gedeon adapted by Giles Croft and Stefan Bednarczyk
Director: Giles Croft