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In the Pink

Emma Brand
Hatch It Theatre
The Courtyard Theatre

In the Pink Credit: Luke Howarth
Irene (Maisie Greenwood) Credit: Luke Howarth
In the Pink Credit: Luke Howarth

Emma Brand’s warm, affectionate play In the Pink is derived from interviews with women in their 90s along with some improvisations from the cast. It is set in a care home where five women residents chat with each other and respond to some questions put by an unseen interviewer.

They talk about their children, the husbands they have lost and the life they now lead and especially the long wait for the next cup of tea. Sometimes, the conversations become more personal as when Irene (Maisie Greenwood) speaks with Dora (Emily Reid) about missing the warmth of another body.

The women are at ease with each other. Maggie (Jeannie Dickinson) and Dolly (Adele James) are particularly comfortable as they joke and talk easily about even personal matters including Dolly’s continuing desire for men. At one point, they sing and dance together. It is a joyous scene which captures a lightness of touch in the depiction of these women.

Not all the women fit in quite so easily. Rachel (Elly Wade), the newcomer who is possibly suffering from Alzheimer's disease, seems uncertain about where she is or where she lives. But even she wants to join the company, dragging in a chair so as to sit with the group and, despite some unfriendly comments from one or two of the others, settles in. Maggie, perhaps thinking of a time when many of them might go through the same situation, says, "we are all Rachels".

The interviewer asks questions about their attitude to the loss of independent living, where they were happiest and which decade they liked the best. Dora chooses the 1940s. A couple of them pick the 1960s. For Irene, who claims she was too old for the 1960s, it was an interesting time because women were recognised as important in their own right rather than simply for what they provided, such as meals.

Irene tells the others she would like to talk about political issues such as the Middle East for which she blames Blair, or "Bliar" as she prefers to call him.

She comes from an immigrant background and argues that the referendum vote wasn’t about migrants but about having a say. As she explains, "these days, hardly anyone asks me what I want."

This could have been the message of this respectful often funny play. These women are thoughtful, sensitive and lively. They still have much to share with the world. Hatch It Theatre clearly enjoyed their company and has given audiences an opportunity to do the same.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna