The Lounge an 80-minute theatre piece about what may or may not be the last day of the life of a 97-year-old woman called Marsha Hewitt, who finds herself transferred to a care home after a fall at the much-loved house where she has lived for many decades. Marsha is very frail, but still strong-minded; and faced with the patronising kindliness of the staff, and what she sees as the idiocy and pettiness of the other residents, she dreams of escape. She calmly tips all the food and medication she is given into her capacious handbag, along with the remote control of the babbling lounge television; the handbag also contains her precious chequebook. And when the grandson of one of the other residents arrives for a visit, she soon works out that his combination of financial desperation and emotional aimlessness may offer her best chance of a quick return to her beloved home.
Produced by China Plate and created by Inspector Sands, a company well known for their surreal and inventive shows about the absurdity of contemporary life, The Lounge draws on the expertise of a team of scientific advisors (links below), and uses visual images, dream-like sequences and an element of pure fantasy to raise issues about the treatment of elderly people, the devastating loss of a sense of autonomy and status which can come with a move into care, the sheer distress caused by chronic mobility problems and the loss of control of bodily functions, and the way elderly people themselves may have internalised negative attitudes to their own age group. There is also a sharp look at the economics of elderly care, and at the fortunes which are now being made by some ruthless operators in this field.
By the end, Marsha Hewitt begins to recognise that rebellion may be futile; a reminder that, despite her judgements against her fellow residents, she is in a similar position. While The Lounge remains open-ended and ambiguous it provides opportunity for reflection on elderly care, and raises excellent and essential discussion points for a dialogue about treating all people - regardless of age - with dignity and respect. (Joyce McMillan)
The Lounge is on at 15.25 at Summerhall until August 27th. See venue for information on accessibility. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/lounge
This Diagnosis was written by Scotsman critic Joyce McMillan for an article focusing on TSOTF writing practice (published 17th August). Read the full piece here: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/edinburgh-festivals/the-sick-of-the-fringe-tackles-the-medical-matters-1-4205346
More on Inspector Sands and China Plate: http://chinaplatetheatre.com/partners/inspector-sands
On consultant Julian Hughes: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/peals/people/profile/julian.hughes
On consultant Dr. Jane Fleming: http://www.phpc.cam.ac.uk/people/phab/phab-senior-research-staff/dr-jane-fleming/
On consultant Dr Daniel Davis: https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=DDAVI19
On consultant Ryan Jansen: http://www.puresportsmed.com/team/ryan-jansen