John Osborne is a writer known for his poetry and his popular Edinburgh show John Peel’s Shed. This gently observational show is about two sisters dealing with their dad’s diagnosis of dementia.
Gently observational show about dementia and friendship
We meet the first sister at Gloucester Services, stopping off with John on the way to their last Glastonbury together. John jokes that he spent that weekend slumped and jealous of all the people who missed out on getting tickets to the festival and got to stay at home in the warm instead.
The second, older sister was an indie-kid before John and his friends were, going dancing and coming home late and loud. She loved Saint Etienne and clips of their songs play at intervals throughout the show. I liked this detail, but this era is so very much my niche that I can’t tell if the jokes would land for people outside that nineties-indie bubble. The pop references underline the question— are John and his friends ready to spend less time at festivals and more time at hospitals?
As You're In A Bad Way unfolds, scenes flash between the bedrooms of teenagers and their parents' bedrooms in care homes. John’s memories of playing pop cassettes while waiting to be old enough to drink, play tag with the podcasts & YouTube clips streamed through bluetooth speakers today. Friendships continue as life nudges us from festivals to weddings, but a shift has happened. A new generation is dancing at the front of the Pyramid stage now.
Did I say flash? Perhaps I meant amble. The show is very new as it's delivered tonight, and the pace only a beat above slowly stopping for a nice sit down. The cadence of sentences is repetitive, trailing off in the same way each time. Maybe future audiences will benefit from a show with more variety in pitch.
This show has a good heart and resolves itself nicely. The peculiar pain of watching a parent deteriorate is tenderly drawn, and it describes the pre-tuition fee, 90s indie-kid generation with precision and affection.