Few crimes are more despicable than those that exploit the elderly. Shockingly, more than 450,000 people over the age of 66 suffer abuse from relatives, carers or friends within a single year. Tom Glover’s new comedy attempts to address this and to combat some of the stereotypes about growing old, by creating a situation in which the elderly fight back.
In Beneath the Blue Rinse, shyster salesman Simon (Kevin Tomlinson) is trying to con Flora (Marlene Sidaway) into purchasing unnecessary security alarms. What Simon doesn’t realise is that Flora is in fact a terrorist for the new military wing of Help the Aged and the unsuspecting salesman has wandered into her trap. Flora ties him up and tortures him with scalding tea until her comrade turns up to finish the job with an execution.
Parts of Glen Walford’s production are an utter delight, thanks to a hell-raising performance from Sidaway, a have-a-go-pensioner with severe boundary issues. Ian Redford’s George, Flora’s boyfriend and the muscle in this underground organisation, enters with all guns blazing but from this point on Glover’s play begins to lose its nerve.
As the language and violence become stronger, so the joke begins to wear a little thin. The climax offers redemption for Tomlinson’s seedy salesman but, by this point, the play has got bogged down with coarse humour – and an extended gag with a penis pump. Walford’s direction only compounds this. Despite the best intentions of those involved, the play is better at raising laughs than awareness.