Friday, 30 January 2015

Nottingham Playhouse

My cheeks have not ached this much for a while and I'm not talking about being sat down for a long period of time. Having seen this fiendishly funny comedy with music three times before tonight, I knew what to expect and had been looking forward to seeing it again all week.

"Forever Young" is all about growing old disgracefully. Set in the future by 50 years in a retirement home for retired panto and theatricals and under the semi watchful eye of Sister George, the "inmates", Mr Bednarczyk, Ms Little, Mr Frater, Mr Elkington,Mr Superville and Ms Darcy create comic mayhem, busting some moves and belting out some tunes from their heyday.

Sister George, played by Georgina White struts and prowls around like a masochistic Kim Woodburn keeping the aged thespians in check. Georgina also gets to air her rather tasty vocal chords as well with a couple of original songs. You don't often get to hear many songs with the words crematorium, graveyard, kicking the bucket and dying in them!

Stefan Bednarczyk keeps the musical flow going at the piano, backing everyone with some very clever and stripped back arrangements of some classic songs. Among them a very poignant version of Aqua's "Barbie Girl" and Alphaville's "Forever Young",sung by Rebecca Little. As Ms little, Rebecca manges to swear and insult most of the cast but is incredibly funny throughout, especially with her tale of "The Tree".

Panto dame favourite, John Elkington, becomes the hippy of the bunch and provides a couple of medleys from the "Summer Of Love" period of his life and, along with "Forever Young" newcomer,  Tim Walker Frater, who we also saw in the 2014/2015 panto along with John and Rebecca, serves up a classic piece of comedy gauntlet throwing which brings Act One to an electrifying close.

Dale Superville and Clara Darcy play the "couple" of the theatre scene, Mr Superville always looking to impress his "little seagull" with his dance moves and magic show, which also produces a lovely piece of poignancy, drawing a lovely reaction from some of the audience, This lasts just long enough before he starts to bust some serious hip hoperation moves to Aretha Franklin's "Respect".

Clara's character is one of an entertainer who switches on the actress like a switch, always ready to perform with an absent minded habit of wandering off.

This has to be one of the funniest plays ever, even though it was originally a German play written by Erik Gedeon, the comedy and pathos translate so well. Some brilliant song choices from Nirvana, Gloria Gaynor, Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Jett, Tom Jones, Pete Seeger and The Beatles. There is an element of panto here but for an adult audience due to the choice language.

There are also not many plays where the silences and gaps in the action actually add to the story but this is one where the silences say just as much as the scripted word. Knowing where these silences came, I still found myself in eager anticipation of what I knew was to come, and still found it as funny as I did when I first saw it.There have been a few small updates in the script which has managed to keep it fresh and topical but has only added to it's magic.

"Forever Young" is on at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 7 February 2015

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