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Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! review at Battersea Arts Centre, London – ‘funny, sad – and slow’

Jon Haynes in Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! at Battersea Arts Centre, London. Photo: Bryony Jackson
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If you’ve ever felt boredom – real bone-numbing, brain-dead boredom – chances are it’ll still be insignificant in comparison to the first 15 minutes of Ridiculusmus’ latest show, Die! Die! Die! Old People Die!

Dressed as two post-centenarians, got-up in Sunday best, David Woods and Jon Haynes shuffle and shudder across the stage millimetre by millimetre from the edge of the room to an antique table at its centre. Aeons pass in the time it takes for them to get there. It’s like watching paint dry – and then age, crack and peel and have to be painted again centuries later, and then watching that dry too.

There’s artistry to this tedium. It’s funny and it’s sad. That’s the point, really. Our comedy, our boredom and our sadness are some people’s reality.

With slightly savage humour and great empathy, Haynes and Woods explore how elderly people don’t have any choice in taking life at a gentle pace. Nor do they have any choice in the absurdities that come from senescence. While their slow take on ageing has less substance and bite than some of their previous work – shows that have explored, among other things, schizophrenia and PTSD – there are wonderful moments scattered through the opaque love-triangle storyline. There are farts and blow jobs, and the civility of one generation laid against the social media-stoked grimness of another, as the pair reveal themselves once again as skilled clowns and manipulators of form.

Maybe it’s a consequence of my micro-attention span, but I found the show a test of patience, and one that – despite cracking sound design from Marco Cher-Gibard and occasional moments of brilliance – doesn’t pay off.

Ridiculusmus: It’s no joke being funny

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Slow – very slow – exploration of ageing from experimental theatremakers Ridiculusmus