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Assessment review at Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre – ‘chilling and emotionally articulate’

Stephen Clyde in Assessment at Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, Edinburgh Stephen Clyde in Assessment at Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, Edinburgh
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Alan McDonald is not having a good birthday. Reduced to living with his daughter to make his pension go further, his arthritis is flaring up and it’s been a while since he’s had a win at the bookies. To top it all, he discovers that it was his daughter who initiated interest in a new government scheme to reduce the pension deficit. Assisted suicide is being offered in exchange for a lump sum paid out to your recipient of choice.

Robert Dawson Scott’s new play Assessment imagines the impact of government legislation on assisted suicide. It’s a step on from Jenny Carr’s musical documentary, with a government that sees people only as fiscal units and the ageing population as no longer financially viable. It’s not an intrinsically theatrical piece and the staging is awkward, but the message is clearly established with economy and wit.

Stephen Clyde ages up successfully to convey the curmudgeonly pensioner forced to consider his worth after a lifetime of paying into the system. Alan is the heart of this drama and Clyde’s characterisation is playful but ultimately heartbreaking. Comic touches may help lighten some of the more difficult moments, but one can’t help sensing that this is far closer to fact than fiction that we imagine.

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Chilling and emotionally articulate vision of the future of the state pension