A review of Silver Lining by William J. of Bay FM

Silver Lining is a delightful comedy on aging from the pen of British-Danish playwright and lawyer Sandi Toksvig. Sandi is known for her stand-up comedy, radio and especially in the new host of TV’s ‘QI’ – receiving only 40% of Stephen Fry’s fee. Not surprisingly she is a joint founder of the Women’s Equality Party.

This play is written in two genres. The First Act is hilarious, whereas the Second Act is quite dark – but still with a blend of humour – as we learn about each resident’s past. This very topical and current subject of an uncaring old folks’ home can be seen at CTG Chelmer Community Centre Cnr Queenscroft and Halsbury Sts Chelmer from May 11th – June 1st.  It opened last evening.

Set at the Silver Retirement Home in Gravesend, the weather has just turned foul.

The set: is an impressive dayroom.

Amending the words of Bulwer-Lytton slightly, ‘It was a dark and stormy morning’ outside the Silver Retirement Home in Gravesend. In the first-floor lounge, clutching her torch is Maureen (Marion Jones) recalling her long-gone days in the theatre. Her elderly but most lucid friend, chirpy cockney Gloria (Julie Moran) feels around in the dark for the light switch, just as a massive flash of lightning illuminates the room. Sitting in their favourite chairs, they query where matron and the staff have gone.

The floods continue rising. The highly religious, but dippy widow, June (Barbara de-Bont) wants to go for a swim, but thankfully her acerbic lesbian sister, May (Penny Murphy) bluntly tells her of the impending danger. Donned in a massive black bin bag, Hope (Ama Appiah-Brenya) an inexperienced, temporary local social worker staggers in to save them.

There is a sudden power failure, and when the lights come back on, a strange young man Jed (Lewis Ziebarth) is searching for things to loot. A fracas takes place.

On searching the bedrooms, Hope finds an enigmatic resident, St. Michael (Lea Greenaway) whose brain ranges from genius to rough sex; and biscuits not to mention Physics.

There were a couple of laughs a minute in the first Act. As always there are a few odd minor fluffs, but as I can personally confirm, most senior citizen have trouble learning a single person’s name; so to learn huge chunks of comic script must have been a major challenge for the whole cast.

There were dozens of one-liners and raunchy double-entendres, which were perfectly delivered by the pan-faced actors, but being perhaps too subtle, could slip by the audience if you are not paying close attention; Be vigil!!

The personalities of the very different characters were captured perfectly, with expressions and mannerisms that will bring a broad grin. Superb team work. Director Brian Hinselwood and his actor wife Meg, as assistant to the director have worked hard to put this together.

Stage Manager Rhyll Bucknell had a challenge with the countless props not to mention the flashing, pulsating vibrator, the stories on that prop alone can fill pages.

This very well acted show giving the audience two first-class plays for the price of one. A hilarious comedy, with a poignant, instantly recognisable, group of old ladies, who have been forgotten by everyone.

Hang in there……….. your turn is coming! Take notes.