Ever think about retirement? I must admit I am starting to and face the prospect with absolute dread. I know some people look forward to giving up work and spending the halcyon days of their lives in a relaxed and carefree way in the company of friends and loved ones. That was certainly the plan for the couple in Adrian McLoughlin’s play The Golden F**king Years currently being presented by Vital Signs Productions & Andrew Livingstone Productions at the Brockley Jack.
On a sun-drenched balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, two people sit. Gordon (Adrian McLoughlin) and Helen (Deborah Maclaren) have been married for 18 years and are now retired. They spend their days relaxing in their apartment, drinking gin and reading – and their nights at the local bar. The couple don’t have a hectic life. After all, they aren’t as young as they once were – Gordon is nearly 70 – so obviously their pace of life has slowed down. In fact, Gordon seems happy to drink his way through the next few years until the inevitable visit of death. Although it may seem they have an idyllic life with no cares in the world, they both have moments of dissatisfaction but they muddle through life together as they have done for years. Until one day, a glamorous Essex lady by the name of Cath (Anneli Page) decides to look for an apartment and enters Gordon and Helen’s lives like the proverbial ‘bat out of hell’
The Golden F**king Years is a very funny look at old age and how people cope with it. More than that, playwright Adrian McLoughlin challenges the audience to re-examine their own thoughts on older people as they follow the travels of Helen, Gordon and Cath in this well-crafted story. It’s surprising how, even the most liberal and free-thinking of people, just naturally assume that the ‘oldies’ will fade gently into obscurity once their working lives are over. With The Golden F**king Years, Adrian, really shows that an elderly couple can do and be anything they want. Aside from the story – which is full of lovely comedic elements, even when least expected, I love the fact that this play requires mature actors to take centre stage.
And these are three very talented actors indeed. Having seen my parents – who are about Gordon and Helen’s age – together, I can assure you the two characters, as portrayed by Adrian and Deborah respectively, are absolutely true to life. Gordon’s wittering and Helen’s exasperation – you could even feel her eyes rolling behind her sunglasses as he chuntered on – were spot on and I loved them both straight away. I wasn’t quite so sure about Cath, and if I’m honest, it took me a little while to feel some connection with her. However, once I did, then I really appreciated both the character and the work put in by Anneli Page to bring her to life.
Designer, Chris de Wilde makes great use of the Brockley’s stage space to create the different locations and Director Clare Prenton keeps the pace steady as the story unfolds. Good lighting by Ben Jacobs along with an excellent soundtrack meant that scene changes didn’t slow things down – although I do have David Bowie’s ‘Golden Years’ still running through my head this morning.
All in all this one-act play, with a running time of roughly ninety minutes, was a very amusing and entertaining look at life after retiring. I liked the story and loved the open ending. I also really loved that The Golden F**king Years was not only highly enjoyable but also challenged the audience’s perception on what it is to be old, in a way that makes me slightly less fearful about my own fast-approaching Golden Years.
Review by Terry Eastham
Helen and Gordon spend their retirement on their Mediterranean balcony, reading and drinking gin, quite a lot of it. Both have moments of dissatisfaction. Is this life-changing or merely boredom brought on by age and inactivity?
When a younger woman appears in their lives, their comfortable existence is blown apart in an unexpected fashion. Sex, alcohol and physical mayhem have dangerous repercussions for all.
A hilarious new play about getting old, moving abroad and the consequences of spontaneous behaviour. The Golden F**king Years takes a look at how people behave – and how others expect them to behave – as they age.
The Golden F**king Years Listings Information
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London, SE4 2DH
Tuesday 17 to Saturday 28 April 2018 at 7.30pm.