John Godber Theatre Company
Victoria Theatre, Halifax
By Derek Greenwood
Preluded by a stand-up monologue by Martin, which morphs into the source of his material, his elderly parents and their repetitive “domestic warfare”, this is a relentlessly painful examination of the sad and fruitless extent of long lives united in a profound lack of interest in anything and everything.
“It takes practice to stay with one woman all your life” is Dad’s telling line as his son’s infidelity is brought up – again. We shuffled through the morbid elongation of time and the absurd impact of over-structured familiarity enforced by endless habit-forming activity – or lack of it.
This predictable routine was illustrated by the poignant and simple, very slight, movement of the chairs on stage for each scene. “Going on…” is what their lives are about, with no spark of positivity or creativity remotely touching their lives. This is when “passing away” begins to have appeal.
As Martin probes further, he recognises that they are “travelling but not seeing anything”: this is their staple, an inadequate diet of missed opportunities, badly remembered memories, misunderstood conversations and terminal hypochondria.
The inevitable obsession with bowel movements, the fear of oldness and the inevitability that one was “made for each other, for better or…” – mainly worse, this witty tale, for us to cackle at, was conceived from a reality familiar to many, hanging over life like a persistent grey cloud with nary a flicker of sunshine poking through.
Funny? Yes, but honest too and typically Godber!