Too Young to Stay in (Too old to go out!)
Reviewed – 17th August 2018
“a fun show on an interesting topic, although it lacked both the messages to be moving and the execution to be effective“
Nigel Osner presents nine individual characters as he sings, acts and performs poetry with the night interspersed with Osner’s conversational segways. The play focuses on the ageing figures and attempts to portray personal stories of being and becoming old. These personalities come through as our host dons simple costumes pre-placed on the small stage, all while the audience chuckles at rhyming jokes and knowing wit.
The nine personas don’t exactly run the gamut; sometimes ranging from a posh man in love with a young man to a regional man in love with a young woman to a posh (American) woman in love with two young men. There are sections not about love; one lady murders her travelling companion and another experiences the inevitable health issues which come with age – but the writing and performance leave even those episodes feeling more and more like the others. Consistent poetic and lyrical structures, not to mention the uniform backing track, allow each section to slouch into a differently-coloured version of the same message: I wish I wasn’t old.
Technically, Osner wasn’t quite as strong as this one-handed all singing, all acting, production demands. The generic accents were solid but sometimes lacked humanity. The singing was very passable but it may have been better if the warm-up had been done off-stage rather than in the first two numbers. That said, the poetry was entertaining and provided the real laughs for the show – there was giggling and energy as attendees learnt the pattern and began to preempt the second half to each couplet.
Unfortunately, due to its accidental autobiographical style and loose performance, the show often felt old itself. At times, it was less a tribute to old age and more a tribute to a retiring drama teacher, featuring said (much loved) drama teacher. The night didn’t drag as Osner’s cleverness and obvious enjoyment was entertaining but with the observations superficial and the high notes painful, this audience member couldn’t help thinking that it was time to clap and present Mr Osner with a bottle of wine and a collected works of Shakespeare.
This was a fun show on an interesting topic, although it lacked both the messages to be moving and the execution to be effective. What was left was a shaky show with just enough fun one-liners, funny twists, and witty verses to be energetically enjoyable and pleasantly amusing.
Reviewed by William Nash
Too Young to Stay in (too old to go out!)
Etcetera Theatre until 19th August
as part of The Camden Fringe Festival 2018