Re-Live Theatre, Alison O-Connor and Karin Diamond, create innovative documentary theatre and life story work with older people. They are driven by their belief that everyone has a story to tell, and that our wellbeing depends upon that story being validated and respected.
On 14th and 15th June at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff they demonstrated their inspiring abilities to craft “Age”,a show with a bold and skilled cast of performers. This cast certainly had some stories to tell and a great ability to hold an audience gripped by their insights. It looked as if it was fun to be in, but this was genuinely a show that gave the audience a buzz.
Terri established the high standard of performance we could expect for the whole show, as she opened the show by leading the whole company in a praise of sex and love in old age.
Through a combination of ensemble pieces and personal monologues, poetry, dance and music musical we, the audience, were gripped, entertained, provoked and inspired by the this dynamic cast.
“Come on Shoot Us “was an ensemble song that had edge and humour. Lynette’s plea: “Cremate me in a Wallis Dress not M&S” added to the stream of surprising and provocative ideas the company explored. Sex. failing health, loneliness, dementia, death – all the realities and taboos of old age were faced and shared with truth and humanity. Julian performed a gripping and memorable monologue pondering his seemingly specific and extraordinary dilemma in old age – whether to return to Australia, where he was born and raised before emigrating to the UK in the 1960s, or to live out his old age in his adopted country and home in Cardiff. His seemed an unusual and extreme set of decisions, but in so many ways it merely reminded us of the big decisions that face us all – as we think about leaving a home, separation from friends, facing reduced mobility, diminishing choices and the finite scope of our journeys in later life. Genuinely and manifestly, Julian demonstrated the power of art – singing in his case – to bring meaning, zest, purpose and a sense of continued connection to other people.
Above all, the company has an ability to hold them and enter a shared space with them. “Age” ended with Terri again holding the company and the audience together in a moving contemplation of dying and death. The audience was unhesitating in getting to its feet for a standing ovation – a response wholly provoked by the skill, the originality and the truthfulness of this performance.