In the first section, a young couple try to find the best place to have sex, finally settling on the house of an old man who the girl cares for. The bed is turned to a different angle to show the different rooms the couple go into, effectively and simply changing location, but also meaning that every member of the audience could see the actors (the play was in the round with audience members on all four sides of the stage). The young pair discuss whether or not they would want to die before they became old and shrivelled. When they stumbled across the old homeowner lying on the floor of his bedroom, naked and dying, they asked another question; should we continue to medicate dying people to prolong their life, when their life is lonely and monotonous and perhaps they just want to die?
The second section consisted of disjointed snippets of conversations between a couple, taking the audience from meeting the parents, to getting married, to having children and then finally to the death of a parent. To indicate when the conversations changed (each snippet moved directly onto to the next without pause), a faulty lightbulb flickers. I thought that this was very clever as it is a perfectly natural thing to be happening in their run-down rented home, but it is a subtle way of pointing the audience in the right direction. Throughout the scene, the pair repeatedly made and unmade the bed, showing how despite hardship such as redundancy and increasing rent, life goes on. Work continues and you must maintain responsibility, responsibility of feeding, clothing and ensuring there is a roof over the head of your young son. But is that responsibility more important than the life of a loved elderly parent, who, despite slowly dying, is adamant that her time is not done? The talented actors navigate this scene with ease, and Sophie Couch is superb at discreetly changing her demeanour to create tension and make the question that is posed extremely difficult to answer.
The third and final section is set in an old age home of the future, where you can 'opt out' and take the 'easier option' of euthanasia, without too much consideration. You do not have to consult any family members, money will go to your children, and once you've signed there's no going back. One man had decided to euthanize himself in order to support his children. In the heart-breaking moments before his death, he repeatedly tells himself that his children did not visit him because he had asked them not to. The next person to commit to euthanasia from the four-person dorm was a grumpy, old man. He signed in moment of fury as he learns that his nephew will not be taking him out of the care home as he had expected. Not long after, however, he regrets his decision. Jamie Ankrah is excellent at changing from the shouty, completely unlovable old man to a quiet and vulnerable man, desperately and sincerely pleading that he can undo his decision, in one of the most sad moments in the play. Finally, one woman, driven mad by loneliness after the lady she had fallen in love with in the care home had left, decides that she will take the easy option. It is only once she has taken the medicine that she realises she wants to live.
The script quickly moves between joking and light-hearted conversation to serious questions about the relationship between young and old in today's society. It also provides an opportunity for "personal creativity", which is perhaps a reason everything seems so realistic. Something that adds to this production is its ability to move from fast paced text to holding moments of stillness and moving away from the play text for a few moments. This happened most notably in the old age home. Before the first man goes to die, the dorm joins him in singing "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" in a realistic and heart-warming moment of friendship. And, towards the end, the old woman sits alone on stage, holding the attention of the entire audience, repeatedly turning the lights on, and then off.
This is a very clever script which asks some difficult and important questions. A very sensitive piece of drama presented by top class talent. Recommended.