Review: Waiting For God, by Michael Aitkens, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until May 13
- Credit: Geraint Lewis
For those expecting a nostalgic regurgitation of the best elements of the classic TV sit-com of the same name then audiences should raise their sights and applaud the fact that scriptwriter and playwright Michael Aitkens has delivered something immeasurably better.
He has transformed a gentle, undemanding 1990s sitcom, into a barbed, funny and thoughtful meditation on the effects of old age on the young at heart.
This is no lazy reworking of old TV scripts but a well-considered, stand-alone play, expertly played by two actors with a life time of experience they can tap into.
Nichola McAuliffe and Jeffery Holland step into roles first created on television by Stephanie Cole and Graham Crowden but you don’t miss the originators for a second as these two theatrical stars put their own stamp on former war-zone photographer Diana Trent and gentle accountant Tom Ballad.
They create characters that live and breathe on stage in a new play and don’t need memories of past successes to function. With talk of Brexit and middle-east conflicts we know very quickly this is a play that deals with up-to-the-minute topics.
But, the 21st century social commentary is just a backdrop to a timeless dialogue about the nature of old age and the role that older people play in different societies. It’s a play with a lot of laughs, many of the them barbed thanks to Diana’s sharp tongue, but it also deals with the fragility of emotions and the nature of love in later life.
While Nichola McAuliffe and Jeffery Holland are the central focus of the play, they receive great support from David Benson as Tom’s put-upon son, Joanna Bending as Diana’s high-flying niece Sarah Chase and Samuel Collings and Emily Pithon as the hapless care home workers Harvey Baines and Jane Edwards.
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These are all characters which add to a confusing and, at times, surreal world inhabited by Diana and Tom and give them something to rebel against. They allow them to be individuals rather than identikit pensioners – a word which Diana hates.
Director David Grindley keeps the set simple and the action moving. An entertaining and surprisingly thoughtful play which delivers plenty of laughs and a few moments of reflection.