Theatre: Two-hander merits huge applause

Written By: William Russell
Published: March 17, 2018 Last modified: March 17, 2018

Old Fools,

Southwark Playhouse, the Little, London.

 

Old Fools by Tristan Bernays is a very sad but also but very funny two-hander about the marriage between Tom, a flighty slightly fey musician, and Viv, his no-nonsense Scottish wife, and how it is affected when he falls victim to Alzheimer’s.

Bernays has created a series of snapshot scenes, mixing them up in time so that you realise early on what lies ahead for both of them while they are enjoying the happiness, their delight in their daughter Alice, and the years working abroad promoting his career while she is the breadwinner. This makes Tom’s illness all the more poignant. The couple flirt, they fight, they laugh backed by the strains of popular songs, in particular ‘The Way You Look Tonight’.

Mark Arends (Tom) and Frances Grey (Viv) could not be bettered. Director Sharon Burrell has set the whole thing in the round on a stage that is bare except for a piano stool. It works a treat, allowing the actors to conjure up their worlds. Bernay’s play is beautifully crafted and the result is life-enhancing. In other words, it is unmissable.