Before Chris’s wife died, she made him promise to be himself. She had known he was gay before he did, but things were different ‘in those days’ and you stayed together. Newly widowed and embracing ‘from today everything changes’, he begins online dating, not really believing he has anything to offer – especially to men younger than his own pensionable age. Grindr is confusing and he is stood up by a few men before he meets the perennially late forty something man who is interested enough in him to want to form a relationship.
This is a pertinent tale which should of course be told
The daunting nature of dating after a relationship of thirty plus years strikes a chord regardless of sexuality. The fact that at over sixty years old, Chris has never courted a man. He doesn’t know what to do, which could make for some shy awkward moments which weren’t shown as well as they could have been. His life is not without difficulties, he seems to have a temper he struggles to control and he’s incredibly insecure. He sweetly hopes his partner doesn’t object to him having a family – a son and daughter and grandson. He has an interesting relationship with his daughter, who at first blows up due to shock, but then becomes so incredibly understanding and is instrumental in patching things up between her dad and partner when things go wrong. This is not unbelievable per se, but there was little emotional journey for the daughter to work through, it appeared very simplified in the telling.
This is a laudable subject, very worthy and fairly unknown, so perhaps unique in terms of exposure at theatre level. However, the piece is more a narration of a story than a play, controlled by the main character, Chris. Everything is told to the audience – how he feels, what they looked like, even when the wine is poured, all in specific detail. The two other players in the piece – the new boyfriend and the daughter, sit at the back throughout the piece until they are required to come forward. The mixture of audio book, radio play and narrated story is a little confusing. We're here to watch a play, and you don’t get what you expect. The characters are downplayed and the actors have a lot less to do as everything about them is explained to the audience. As the audience it is important to see and feel what the characters go through rather than have it described to us.
This is a pertinent tale which should of course be told, but the way it is told is also very important. The message that this is the first day of the rest of your life is a vital one to be telling, and while the actors did their jobs reasonably well, it could have been so much better.