REVIEW: Casting Off by Philip Paris
Nairn Community & Arts Centre
* * * *
by Margaret Chrystall
THERE’S a decent yarn at the heart of this lively, warm-hearted three-hander (three, if we’re not counting the very present silent cast member Tiddles).
Philip Paris’s play has some very contemporary issues to work through – how we care for our elderly, how their role in later life can benefit our communities, how people of all ages cope with loneliness.
If that makes this 70-minute drama sound heavy, the lightness of touch of the writing and large number of jokes and knowing inneuendo saw Nairn’s packed community centre laughing their heads off last Saturday.
When three care home friends are confronted by a rise in fees, Dorothy (Heather Corpe) faces losing her beloved room — meeting place for her two fellow residents and knitting companions, retired headmistress Miss Ross (Sheila Simey) and the more worldly three-times married Joan (Cass MacDougall).
The three quickly come up with a radical plan to raise enough cash to keep Dorothy there (it would spoil it for audiences set to see the show this week to give it away).
But despite a lot of ingenuity, lateral thinking and sheer bravery — a testament to the power of friendship — it’s not long before the whole thing begins to unravel and the trio are facing totally unforeseen spin-off problems.
Apart from one slightly far-fetched coincidence (and isn’t real-life full of those) the well-crafted plot clicks into place for an unexpected yet totally plausible ending.
It’s a sparkling piece of theatre from Paris — already well-known as a novel and non-fiction writer of books, including The Italian Chapel — hopefully just the first of many more.
Staged under the creative ageing banner of the Scotland-wide Luminate Festival, the play’s topics fit well.
A cracking pace from director Dave Smith was aided by tightly-choreographed scene changes denoting passing time by simply going to black while the couthy accordion music ensured continuity. A lovingly crafted set, props and costumes all added authenticity.
But perhaps most of all, fine ensemble acting from the three actresses ensure Paris’s play is a real "purl" of a performance.
Casting Off — part of the Scotland-wide Luminate Festival — is on at the Florians Theatre, Inverness, on Friday, October 9 and the Carnegie Hall, Pormahomack on Saturday, October 10. For more details on the events and Luminate: www.luminatescotland.org