The Golden F**king Years
Vital Signs Productions
The Jack Studio Theatre
Whilst all eyes are on gender equality on the stage and behind it, companies like Vital Signs Productions are doing their bit to put the often overlooked and underwritten for older person in the limelight.
In new comedy The Golden F**king Years, Gordon and Helen, now a couple in name only, are retired and living comfortably off somewhere on the Med but it is no idyll, more an ex-pat ghetto in which the elderly occupy their days finding ways to pass the time.
Gordon is 70 and bored; wallowing in being an old fart, he won't try anything new and spends his time complaining and getting sloshed, oh yes, and interrupting Helen whilst she is reading.
Enter attractive new arrival in the form of mature, but notably younger, Cath, who is in the area house-hunting. She is sexy and vibrant but as lonely on her own as Helen and Gordon are together.
Out of having nothing else to do rather than physical attraction, Cath beds Gordon and, in a refreshing twist, she pursues and sleeps with Helen.
The revelation of their mutual infidelity detonates Helen's resolve to live the rest of her life rather than watch it pass her by, while sending Gordon into a rather unlikely spin, which I will overlook because it sets up the best line in the show.
The Golden F**king Years, McLoughlin's début play, is very funny and has a light sitcom feel delivering easy laughs.
At the same time it presents as more than just a vehicle for a cast of mature actors with good comic timing, it is something of an invitation to re-examine our assumptions about those who populate the older generations.
Anneli Page's lively Cath reminds us that finding a soul mate doesn't get any easier and Helen and Gordon are the lesson that there is no room for complacency in a long-term relationship.
Deborah Maclaren's thoughtful performance as the unfulfilled Helen is well moderated and she avoids making herself a nag and McLoughlin's doddering Gordon the hen-pecked weakling.
As the play closes, we see Gordon where we first find him. If there was pathos then it was transitory—he opted out of adventure to dribble into an inertia of his own making. Inside, I was cheering for escapee Helen who took the choice to not "Go Gentle into that Good Night". Go girl!
Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti