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A CurtainUp London Review
Silver Lining
"You meet more angels on a winding road than a straight one." — June
Silver Lining
Amanda Walker as St Michael, Joanna Monro as June and Rachel Davies as Maureen (Photo: Mark Douet)
Sandi Toksvig's comedy for English Touring Theatre is about some women retirees stranded in their retirement home in Gravesend in Kent in the middle of a serious flood and where everyone seems to have forgotten about them. The play is full of seriously humourous one liners which is what we would expect from Ms Toksvig whose comic talents, in stand up and chairing the News Quiz, and more recently taking over QI from Stephen Fry, are well known.

The residents are a quirky bunch. Sheila Reid plays former pub landlady Gloria, in a fake leopard skin onesie, pink neon trainers and with a serious smart phone habit. Her predilection for taking selfies is to send them to her nephew Nathan who never responds. May (Maggie McCarthy) and June (Joanna Munroe) are sisters. May is the resident, in a wheelchair with diabetes and her younger sister June is just staying there while her house is renovated.

Then there's Maureen (Rachel Davies) an ex amateur actress who doesn't speak to Gloria and joining these four is St Michael (Amanda Walker), from another part of the home she can only be identified by a label inside her dressing gown, which bears the old clothing trade name of Marks and Spencer.

A zany black girl called Hope (Kezia Joseph) is there to organize the evacuation but she seem to be on her own. As the women slowly realise they have been left behind and each gives their back story with why none of them has a relative or friend who would be asking how or where they are, they realise no-one is coming.

I am struggling with finding a metaphor for these women's situation, the abandonment of those in old age and the inevitability of death perhaps; the delusions of advanced age and the hope that someone will care maybe. St Michael has arrived clutching a box of precious items and comes out with the biggest but contrived laugh of the night when she says "I'm going no further without lubricant!"

May speaks with passion about working for the BBC at Bush House in the 1950s and meeting Peggy, subsequently her Lesbian partner of forty six years, in the days when it was the "love that dared not speak its name". May speaks poignantly about not knowing where Peggy is buried after Peggy's relatives took over her funeral arrangements and didn't tell May. It is this story alone which I cared about.

Rebecca Gatward gets excellent and believable performances out of this cast. I especially liked Maggie McCarthy's intelligent May and her priggish, bigoted sister June played by Joanna Munroe. Each of the women who is still lucid will tell their true story and not the happy ones they have projected. The resulting play is not a great one but a light comedy to put the fear of God in all of us facing old age.

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Silver Lining
by Sandi Toksvig
Directed by Rebecca Gatward
Starring: Rachel Davies, Keziah Joseph, Maggie McCarthy, Joanna Munroe, Sheila Reid, Zeb Soanes, Theo Toksvig-Stewart, Amanda Walker
Design: Michael Taylor
Lighting Design: Mark Doubleday
Sound /Projection Design: Mic Pool
Movement: Ita O'Brien
Fight Director: Kevin McCurdy
Running time: Two hours 20 minutes with an interval minutes
Box Office: 020 8174 0090
Booking to 11th February 2017 at the Rose and then on tour to Portsmouth, Oxford Playhouse, Cambridge Arts Theatre, New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, Theatre by the Lake, York Theatre Royal and the Lowry to 8th April 2017 
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 8th February 2017 performance at The Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames Surrey KT1 1HL
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