Play, Pie, Pint
What a joy was this play to watch. A very real, cross-generational story about mothers & children & child-rearing, packed full of comedy from the pen of playwright Gavin Smith. In an earlier interview with the Mumble, Gavin very kindly outlined the plot of Gap Years, which, ‘focuses on a newly retired woman Geraldine. She’s full of life, has lots of disposable cash and is looking forward to 20 or so years of doing all the things and seeing all the places she always dreamed of. She knows that in a couple of decades she will be too old to do all these exciting things so has to live it up now. These are her Gap Years! But then… like so many retired grandparents of this generation… Geraldine’s daughter shows up looking for regular free childcare so she can go back to work. It’s a comedy as mother and daughters personal grand plans crash together and Geraldine finds herself changing nappies rather than flying to China.’
Vari Sylvester was a lovely, flouncing genius, who delivered Smith’s effortlessly funny, anthropomorphic one-liners with quality timing. It rather felt as if I was listening to a fresh-from-the-wrapper vinyl record for the first time, so clear was Sylvester’s transition into her role. By her side was the excellent Tom Marshal as Peter, & the indisputably talented Nicola Roy as daughter, Louise. The three bounce off each other like genuine family members, & with Smith’s uncannily accurate portrayal of the the conflict which ladies of a certain age experience when entering the supposed ‘freedom’ of the pension years counterbalanced by the needs of their younglings, Gap Years is a tremendous success. ‘This is very close to my life,’ whispered a lady to my right to her friend. ‘This sounds so familiar,’ said another to my left. The play was certainly striking a chord.
Charming from the off, Gap Years has many memorable moments, stitching little familial cliches into an embroidery of silky comedy. ‘I’d rather not pay my family to look after my family,‘ says Louise, before castigating her mother for feeding the baby a bourbon biscuit, which was clearly against the ‘brochure’ of rules she had left with Geraldine. Alongside these two, Peter comments on raising grandchildren by comparing them to a nice rioja read- a great taste, ‘but you don’t want to drink it all day for two days a week.’ The play perhaps tapered off a little in the third act, but not enough to tarnish a brilliant piece of theatre.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen