Silver Lining, a new comedy by Sandi Toksvig, delivers a fun night out full of gentle comedy and bold characters.
Silver Lining tells the story of a group of old women, awaiting a coach that will evacuate them from their old people's home as a flood outside worsens. Help is not immediately forthcoming - only Hope, a bolshy millennial care worker, and a stray looter intrude on their care home lounge. As the play progresses we hear from the women, about their feelings about their pasts and the ends of their lives.
It is extremely refreshing to see a play that is so focussed on the female experience (most especially the older female experience) and yet functioning according to its genre as well - funny and touching, and buoyed up by its subject matter rather than bogged down with it.
All the women in the ensemble work well together, but Maggie McCarthy, playing MacGyveresque lesbian May Trickett, was particularly magnetic. She acted what could have been a fairly stereotypical character with a lightness of touch and charisma that made her really shine.
I felt the first half was set up well, with real warmth breathed into most of the characters we were presented. The second half, however, lagged a little, with a series of fourth-wall breaking monologues slowing the action down unacceptably. The play also suffered from too many issues being addressed. There are a lot of different women present on stage and the play tries to give time to all their possible angles, whereas a selection of a couple would have been clearer and more moving.
I really enjoyed this gentle comedy drama. Fans of Ayckbourn, Godber and Bennett will particularly enjoy this play. It is entirely satisfying and in line with what I expected a play by Sandi Toksvig to be like, knowing what I do about her public persona. For an amusing night out with a fair amount of emotional resonance, this play is a bit of a winner.