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SAD

Victoria Willing
Omnibus Theatre
Omnibus Theatre

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Debra Baker as Gloria in SAD Credit: Dan Tsantilis
Lucas Hare as Daniel in SAD Credit: Dan Tsantilis
Kevin N Golding as Graham and Debra Baker as Gloria in SAD Credit: Dan Tsantilis
Izabella Urbanowicz as Magda in SAD Credit: Dan Tsantilis

It is largely because most of our theatre canon has been written by men that post-menopausal women have been so overlooked as leading character material. Branded by decades of being home-maker, bread-winner, chauffer, family glue and general underdog, or the stigmata of daring to prioritise career over carer, to generalise for a moment, they are a mine of under-tapped possibilities.

So hurray for Victoria Willing whose new play puts gobby 59-year-old Gloria in the limelight although, disappointingly, it is an incomplete portrayal of the woman, a broken mosaic with only enough tesserae to glean a basic picture.

Gloria has reached something of an existential turning point and is living out the winter in the attic with a daylight lamp, simultaneously avoiding Seasonal Affective Disorder and recording her memoires.

There is something inherently wretched about a person who lives in their dressing gown, hiding from life whilst trying to find meaning to their own existence, but Winning leaves the depths unexplored, and Gloria's behaviour verges on indulgent mid-life crisis.

Gloria's partner, Graham, is baffled by her surprising isolation, his devotion apparent in the way he continues to care for her, bringing her food and emptying her toilet-bucket, even in the face of her ingratitude and personal rejection.

Gloria also pushes away her last friend, Magda, selfishly cold towards her when Magda shares her own, arguably worse, difficulties.

The three of them, Gloria, Graham and Magda, each have a run-in with Daniel. Pegged as a prick from his first entrance, climbing through the Velux for a shag at Gloria's invitation, he quickly becomes the most interesting, if still thinly written, character, also being self-righteous, misogynistic and exploitative.

Debra Baker is very watchable as Gloria, prowling around set designer Alys Whitehead's excellent attic, but she could really shine with more cohesive material.

Izabella Urbanowicz is an understatedly tragic Magda and Kevin N Golding impresses with his rendition of principled Graham pushed to violence by Lucas Hare's suitably vile Daniel.

Despite their best efforts, SAD falls short of saying anything much about ageing, isolation, grief or love, and is to be enjoyed, without scrutiny, as a darkly comic and quirky look at four individuals trying to get by in life.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti