Park Theatre, London – until 15 June 2019
Tom Glover’s play successfully and hilariously breaks through stereotypes relating to how people see the elderly.
With the news constantly highlighting bad treatment of the elderly in society, it is refreshing to watch a play in which the elderly have the upper hand over those who attempt to take advantage of them – and in such a sharply funny and yet poignant way.
Tom Glover’s play sees the sleazy and somewhat cocky salesman Simon attempting to scare the apparently gentle Flora into buying an expensive alarm system. However, the tables are soon turned as Flora turns out to be more feisty than anticipated, holding Simon hostage to confront him on how he treats elderly people by torturing him with hot tea and cake (not in the way you would imagine!).
Directed with great perception by Glen Walford, Glover’s play sharply highlights the frustration that the elderly aren’t treated as human beings by society and how they still have their lives to lead despite their age. This is particularly highlighted after Simon is tied up and dependent on Flora to do things for him, whether he wants her to or not, as well as a particular bathroom related incident that is funny but uncomfortable to watch.
The script is filled with so many perceptive and hilarious lines that makes a powerful point about how society shouldn’t judge the elderly based on stereotypes of how we think that they should be and behave.
Throughout the 75 minutes, Beneath the Blue Rinse might be a comedy but there are some surprisingly poignant moments to be found that really hit home with me as someone who has a relative in a home. When Flora speaks of her regret of not taking her friend’s accusations against the home she was in seriously it is a heartbreaking and thought provoking section that highlights how the care system can be flawed and make residents feel trapped.
On the flip side of this, there are moments in the script which feel as though it does get a bit carried away and over exaggerated that take away from the serious message the play is trying to convey.
The performances from all of the cast are brilliant. In particular, Marlene Sidaway as Flora is a real delight to watch throughout – with her feisty and no nonsense attitude really conveying Flora’s frustration at being attempted to be manipulated by Simon and treated as a vulnerable person because of her age. Meanwhile, Kevin Tomlinson as Simon is suitably brash, cocky and dislikable at the beginning but conveys his character’s growth and change in attitude with great conviction that leads to some great moments between him and Sidaway. Ian Redford is also excellent support as Flora’s toy boy George as he reasons that violence isn’t perhaps the best way to change people’s attitudes towards the elderly.
Overall, Beneath the Blue Rinse is a hilarious, thoughtful and at times poignant play that successfully helps to break through stereotypes that the elderly are incapable of living their lives simply because of their age.
By Emma Clarendon
Beneath the Blue Rinse continues to play at the Park Theatre until the 15th June.