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Die! Die! Die! Old People Die!

Created by David Woods and Jon Haynes
Ridiculusmus
Summerhall
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You’d have to be very patient to spend time with the elderly people in Ridiculusmus’s visually comic show, Die! Die! Die! Old People Die!.

The very act of walking to a central table on the stage is, for these elderly, an epic of pained, shaky slowness, achieved against the sound of a ticking clock that emphasises the time it is taking.

Norman (David Woods) leads the smaller, even frailer Veronica (Jon Haynes), their clothes hanging on skeleton limbs that make them seem at least a hundred years old.

Having reached the table, Norman begins to address us, his voice straining to be heard above the sound of the clock. Spitting into an old sock that he has found in his pocket, he begins to take pills in a confusion that risks an overdose. His suggestion of coffee seems to be the cue for sexual activities, as well as coffee.

By the next scene, Veronica has died and Norman reads out some crazy messages of sympathy to the audience. Finally, a meal is eaten by Norman, while his friend Arthur (Jon Haynes) sits across from him crying.

Many of the audience laughed at the exaggerations, in what could almost be a mime comedy.

Although the show finds humour in the old stereotypes about the decrepit clumsiness of the elderly, we ought to remind ourselves that the reality is very different.

Hardly a day passes without a politician describing older people as a burden that we can barely afford, a softening up process to justify further cuts to welfare provision.

Conveniently, they ignore the fact that these older people may care for grandchildren whose parents are out working or share their savings with adult children and contribute to their community in many ways. No wonder the aged still suffer the prejudice of stereotypes that makes them feel unwanted, worthless and isolated.

Cartoon comedies about the elderly will generate the laughs, but how about something that goes against the grain of debilitating prejudice rather than with it.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna