Review: Silver Lining by Sandi Toksvig at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

Silver Lining, the new play by Sandi Toksvig which is at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich

Silver Lining, the new play by Sandi Toksvig which is at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

When you go to see a play about five older ladies stranded in a care home, you probably do not expect to see a ‘fight director’ listed amonst the creative team.

But the unexpected is frequently experienced in Silver Lining, written by QI host Sandi Toksvig – that is what makes it such an enjoyable performance.

As storm waters rise around a retirement home in Gravesend (an irony not lost on the occupants, and a theme for the humour throughout) the audience grows very fond of its quirky residents Maureen (Rachel Davies), Gloria (Sheila Reid), sisters May (Maggie McCarthy) and June (Joanna Monro), and the enigmatic ‘St Michael’ (Amanda Walker). With the rest of the care home evacuated and the quintet seemingly forgotten they do their best to laugh off their predicament – and the audience were howling along with them.

But the play, for all its delightfully blunt, dark humour (the tone is set early on with Dignitas the butt of a joke), does have a serious message that would have left more than one person re-evaluating the relationship they have or had with their grandparents. The subjects’ apparent abandonment is a metaphor for how many older people, especially women, can seem to fade into obscurity because of their age – regardless of the lives they may have had.

Young carer Hope (Keziah Joseph), sent to help get the ladies evacuate as the flood gets closer but stranded with them, is the medium through which the audience glimpses their former lives and demons.

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Some of the most touching and poignant moments had the audience in rapt but emotional silence – but this is a comedy, and they were nearly all complimented by a balancing, witty one-liner.

It’s refreshing as well to see a show squarely focused on people in their older years, but with the appeal to span generations.

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Yes there is a serious message to Silver Lining – that no one, regardless of age, gender or personal history deserves to be written-off – but it is delivered in an uplifting way which shows the characters – and the cast – giving as good as they get.

And the fight scene? Just you wait to see outwardly frail Maureen take on Theo Toksvig-Stewart’s attempted thief Jed.

Silver Lining by Sandi Toksvig, English Touring Theatre and Rose Theatre Kingston at the New Wolsey Theatre, March 14-18

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