Wednesday 26 December 2018

26/12/18: Paradise, Hampstead Theatre

Written by Dusty Hughes and directed by Alice Hamilton, Paradise is a gently profound play about ageing. Roddy (played by Geoffrey Freshwater) and Goose a.k.a. Amanda (Sara Kestelman) are old friends who have enjoyed lives of relative luxury in an old-age home. But a change of management brings with it a stricter regime and tests the limits of their relationship.

There are many stands running through this – the onset of dementia, what it meant to be homosexual in Britain during the years that this was illegal, how corporate-speak denies us our humanity and what it means to love someone when most of your life (and theirs) is now in the past.

There are only four actors and they have to carry a lot of fairly heavy material, but they handle this in a subtle and sophisticated way. Rebekah Hinds and Claire Lams are excellent as the manager and care assistant.

There are plenty of lighthearted moments, too. The funniest of these involves Roddy reciting British prime ministers in a sort of rhythmic dance as part of a memory-recall exercise.

The play gathers gravitas as you learn more about the lives of the four individuals. By the end you are left feeling sadder and wiser.

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