In 2014 Britain gained the title of the ‘loneliness capital of Europe’, a disheartening subject which is the basis for Sandi Toksvig’s new stage play 'Silver Lining'. Make no mistake however, as this stunning piece of theatre could not be further removed from its depressing origins.
Set in an old people’s home in the ironically named Gravesend, five occupants find themselves battling with the forces of nature and the ever increasing water levels. They attempt to escape certain death after being abandoned by the emergency rescue services, and along the way swap playful anecdotes, memories and many, many laughs.
Sandi Toksvig’s writing is some of the best that has been seen in the British theatre for quite some time, and although jovial throughout, it really pulls no punches at exposing the harsh day to day reality of the UK’s elderly citizens.
To help highlight this generational divide was the appropriately exaggerated and youthful carer Hope, played wonderfully by Keziah Joseph, who brought a relentless enthusiasm to the part. Amanda Walker as dementia patient St Michael had the audience in hysterics with her expertly delivered one liners, matched with potentially the most heart-breaking and touching moment in the piece about the realities of her condition.
Maggie McCarthy and Joanna Monro as sisters May and June respectively displayed Toksvig’s typical humour we’ve come to know and love. The back and forth exchanges between the two brought further hysterics to the evenings proceedings, with McCarthy having some particularly delicious insults in her artillery. Leading the way in this extremely strong cast is Sheila Reid as Gloria, the slightly jaded, tech savvy ex landlady battling with depression. Devastating, truthful and side-splittingly funny are just a few ways to describe Reid’s performance and she alone is a reason enough to get along to watch this remarkable play.
It seems The New Theatre Royal is back on top form once again, with what looks to be an exciting upcoming catalogue of shows, fantastically kicked off with easily one of the best plays written in a long time. It’s extremely funny, but more importantly, it’s a message that desperately needs to be heard.
'Silver Lining' shows at the New Theatre Royal nightly until Saturday 18th February 2017. Matinée performance on Saturday at 2:30pm. Limited availability, advance booking recommended.