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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

They do say that by 2008 there will be more pensioners than children in the UK, and the number of people over the age of 80 will rise by 65% in the next 25 years. People, I have seen the future. I went to the Wednesday afternoon matinee performance of 'The Turn of the Screw' (a title so close to 'The Taming of the Shrew', I think it's technically plagiarism) at the Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich today. At least I think it was a play I went to see. It felt more like a rally of the grey power movement. Not that I'm ageist, but when the woman sitting next to you is so old she expects to find room at your feet for a pair of crutches, you know you've got problems. I was tempted to call for a heart monitor at the interval. And I have never in my life seen the Wolsey Theatre so packed. Not even Jim Kitson sold out the Wolsey. (If you just mouthed "who?", you clearly don't know me well enough). But there wasn't a spare seat in the house this afternoon. The woman to my right, who, at about 60, was in the first flush of youth compared to most of those present, turned to me before the play started and said "I think they must have advertised this around all the local churches". By which I presume she meant that everyone looked like they'd come straight from a graveyard.

But still, despite being the youngest person there by a good thirty years, the actual play wasn't bad. It employed the interesting idea of avoiding the use of child actors, by replacing the two young characters in the play with drawings projected onto the french windows. I'm not entirely sure it worked, but it's an idea which is definitely worth trying elsewhere. I for one would be willing to sit through an entire episode of 'Friends' if all the actors were replaced by mute drawings.

I have to say though, the lead actress, Shereen Ibrahim, was very good. On her RADA graduation page, she lists under 'special skills' that most vital of attributes: a full driving licence. So she clearly has the qualifications for the job. She's also played a lemon tart in the past, so you have to say her career's going in the right direction. I thought she was excellent anyway, despite the fact that they'd made her up to look alarmingly like Olive Oyl. Fortunately, twenty minutes after the show, I saw her coming out of the PDSA charity shop (me, not her; she's an actress - she wouldn't be seen dead in the PDSA charity shop), and I can vouch for the fact that in real life she looks nothing like Popeye's girlfriend. I felt she deserved a standing ovation for her performance, but sadly most of the audience couldn't stand up without the aid of a nurse.