Wednesday, August 26, 2015

One Day When We Were Young

I was not intending to blog any more about my various 'adventures' at the Edinburgh festivals. But, with Skip garden now an embarrassment from lack of attention because of the summer we've had, my steam cravings satisfied for now, and more walks awaiting a dry day or so, perhaps another Edinburgh story might be in order.

It began as I was heading to see one of my taiko performances. As Fringe regulars will know, when heading anywhere around the centre of the city, one 'collects' leaflets promoting a variety of shows. One accumulates a pile of flyers, unfortunately most destined for the bin at the end of the day.

I noticed a young couple dancing in the street up by the George Square venues. A flyer duly appeared as I made to take a photo or two.

The leaflet described 'One Day When We Were Young', a play by Nick Payne: "The story of two people as their paths cross throughout the years, changing both their lives irrevocably. In this heartbreaking time-shifting journey of would-be romance, we track the meetings of Violet and Leonard in three parts, from the hope of youth at the height of WW2, to the loneliness and hindsight of old age."

Now, call me a hopeless romantic, but that sounded like something I would go and see. For one thing, I wondered how the two young actors would meet the challenge of the 'old age' bit!

I couldn't go that day, but I kept hold of the performance details.

More visits to Edinburgh, and I went to a number of performances of various things that my life is none the better for. However, I did see Dolly the sheep, suitably stuffed, in an small exhibition in the University Library, and aside from the drums, that had been on the top of the list of enjoyable experiences.

The flyer for 'One Day When We Were Young' was still in my bag, albeit a bit battered. That's it above! It kept reminding me that, if I went up to Edinburgh again, I should go and see this play. So, yesterday, I found myself with a ticket, and was first in the queue at the Box, one of the Assembly George Square, venues.

I then saw a theatre performance that dug a knife through my own life's emotional memories, and left me with a lump in my throat. You know you've had an 'experience' when you have to go on a bit of a walk afterwards to get yourself together. It's what theatre should be, I do believe. I haven't been as affected by a play since 'I Saw the Swede' (about Raul Wallenberg) many years ago.

Nick Payne has written a good script for 'One Day When We Were Young', but it is the two actors which made the play special. Valorie Curry and Sam Underwood are extremely talented, and totally committed to their parts. Enthusiastic and passionate. They were good. No, they were brilliant!

Watching the play from the perspective of an 'older person' - and having just celebrated another birthday, I'm feeling every year that has passed - there were too many reminders of my own life woven into the narrative. I smiled at the mention of the first Wimpy Bar, the Bournville chocolate, and the short clip of Cliff Richard singing 'The Young Ones' - you see, Cliff and the Shadows was the first live 'gig' I ever attended. I was all of fourteen. I remember when my mum got her first washing machine too.

I'd better not say more about the play, or I'll have to give a 'spoiler alert'. Needless to say, Valorie and Sam met the challenge of playing Violet and Leonard in their later years just brilliantly. Clever stuff - I was so impressed.

And there's a twist ... and I don't mean the sparklers.

Great theatre. Well staged. Wonderful actors. Ten out of ten!

Read about the Fundamental Theater Project here.

If you can get a ticket, in the few days this show has left to run, do go. Like me, your life will be enriched for the experience. Assembly George Square, 13.45, until August 31.

And just in case any younger friends are reading this and don't get the Cliff Richard reference, here's a reminder. Innocent times!

Thought for today, 'Life is not a rehearsal'.

Photos © Skip Cottage

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