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The Golden F**king Years review at Jack Studio Theatre, London – ‘honest and often surprising’

Adrian McLoughlin in The Golden F**king Years at Jack Studio Theatre, London. Photo: Chris de Wilde Adrian McLoughlin in The Golden F**king Years at Jack Studio Theatre, London. Photo: Chris de Wilde
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Retirement drama is not a particularly new trend but, naturally, as our nation ages, there’s going to be a greater market for it. The Golden F**king Years isn’t your usual idyllic vision of life as a senior citizen, but rather a wry vision of a married couple who have irrevocably grown apart.

Gordon and Helen became ex-pats in an unnamed Spanish resort 18 years ago. The magic has gone and Gordon spends his days getting slowly plastered while Helen begins to contemplate other avenues. One day Cath turns up, looking for a new home, and unintentionally sets wheels in motion that change their lives forever

Adrian McLoughlin’s script is tightly constructed but the short, episodic scenes play out like a television pilot rather than a play. We don’t get near enough to grasp the mettle of the characters, but the few scenes that do delve deeper are far more satisfying theatrically. That said, the dialogue throughout is sharp, the humour honest and often surprising, and the conclusion sadly inevitable.

Vital Signs Productions has set out to challenge the way older people are perceived and this piece certainly fits the bill. McLoughlin as Gordon is a hopeless figure, trudging toward old age full of self-satisfied indignation and gin. Deborah Maclaren’s Helen has a little more fight in her and a sense of adventure that enables her to start again, with Anneli Page’s flirtatious Cath as a catalyst.

The dynamic between the three performers is superb, but McLoughlin’s articulate script tells only half the story.

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Refreshingly honest retirement drama that leaves you wanting more