Silver Lining review at Rose Theatre, London – ‘astute and sharply-constructed’
As storm Vera batters the country a tidal surge threatens to wipe out vast swathes of the south east of England. It’s a flood of almost biblical proportions and the remaining residents of the Silver Lining retirement home have been left to fend for themselves.
Sandi Toksvig’s new comedy uses a natural disaster as a device to explore the lives of five forgotten women. Facing looters, an ambivalent teenage care-worker and the ghosts of their own pasts, Toksvig’s characters are a resilient bunch and the overarching theme of the play is survival.
Toksvig’s neatly constructed play gently gathers pace, with flashes of humour to punctuate the action and each character is allowed a moment of introspection. The brittle Gloria admits to having regretted not having children, whereas Maureen regrets each one of hers. Siblings May and June bicker over the life-choices that kept them apart and St Michael, an abandoned dementia patient, is simply glad of the rest. For contrast, Toksvig introduces Hope Daley, a bolshie care-worker who crumbles in the face of disaster, but draws strength from her charges.
Maggie McCarthy as the sardonic May and Joanna Monro as sister June make a splendid double act, with some exemplary comic timing between the loaded barbs. Sheila Reid as the Hackney ex-barmaid Gloria is oddly out of sorts here. Well known as the outspoken Madge from ITVs Benidorm, Reid’s Gloria seems strangely artificial.
Director Rebecca Gatward allows the drama to unfold rhythmically and the cast rally to expel the myth that elderly automatically means infirm.