Sandi Toksvig’s play about five elderly women in a care home is witty and filled with plenty of fantastic lines, but it lacks substance and direction to make much of an impact.
Set in a care home which is in danger of flooding, five elderly residents examine their lives and their regrets, tinged with humour and sadness that is surprisingly poignant.
There is no doubting that Sandi Toksvig has a great sense of humour and ability to create characters who audiences can warm to – but in the case of Silver Lining there doesn’t seem to be much purpose to the story and leaves the audience wondering what happened to the characters at the end.
Each of the characters are all so different, yet complement each other so well that even when the rub each other the wrong way there is still a sense of a strong bond between them all. Maureen who at first seems shy and naive later reveals a different side when she tackles a burglar, May who is grounded and sensible but has had sadness in her romantic life, June an uptight person but who hides a secret, Gloria who seems cool and tries to keep up with the kids – but hiding a completely different side to her character and St Michael who suffers from dementia but is capable of demonstrating practical ideas.
Rebecca Gatward’s production is gently entertaining and tries to make the most of the wittiness of the script, particularly with lines like “I’m not going any further without lubricant” and the occasional surprising reference to sex toys, used to create images that I certainly won’t forget. But the production also reveals the slightness of the story which offers no real conclusion about what the characters have discovered about themselves along the way.
But on the other side both Toksvig and Gatward give an insight to the isolation and loneliness that the elderly can experience – particularly important at this time given the the standard of care for the elderly crisis currently unfolding in the UK and it is this that adds the poignancy.
The second act is certainly tighter in the writing and really allows the cast to give some depth to their characters, in particular Sheila Reid’s performance as Gloria, who always manages to bring a smile to the audience’s face with her sharp insights and Rachel Davies as Maureen gradually blooms in confidence.
It is an interesting and important idea for a play but it feels like it needs more depth to make the audience really care and understand the characters – hence why the ending isn’t quite as emotional as it could be.
Although it is warm hearted and filled with good intentions, the story of Silver Lining isn’t enough to fully engage the audience and needs more development.
Silver Lining continues to play at the Rose Theatre in Kingston until the 11th February, before embarking on a UK tour. To book tickets visit: https://www.rosetheatrekingston.org/whats-on/silver-lining