30 years ago, A Month of Sundays won the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy and, even though comedic times change faster than most, the piece maintains an enduring appeal.
It’s a black comedy for the most part, about the fear and loneliness of the ageing process and a sizeable chunk of the humour comes from mockery of the stultifying tedium of life in a pleasant care home. But here’s the rub: that most definitely should not mean stultifying tedium onstage and director Russell Bolam needs to add a lot more snap, crackle and pop to a production that is weighted down with way too much dead air, as well as some troublesome audibility issues.
Writer Bob Larbey, co-creator of such classic sitcoms as The Good Life and Ever Decreasing Circles, knew all about building strong characters, which he does here with Cooper (William Hoyland), physically frail but mentally robust and elegantly livid that his life should now be reduced to a monthly visit from his time-pressed daughter. He’s irascible but witty, as he and chum Aylott (Robin Hooper) maintain a constant nervous vigil against joining the ranks of the home’s dementia-plagued ‘zombies’.
Hoyland enjoys some strong and affecting moments, especially with kind young nurse Wilson (good work from Anna Leong Brophy), although occasional sharpening of his performance wouldn’t hurt.
It’s always pleasing – and still far too rare – to watch theatre tackle issues of ageing. After all, Shakespeare managed it in King Lear, didn’t he?