THERE is much to admire in the Progress Theatre’s storming production of Silver Lining – a play about the sometimes tragic stories that stay buried inside us for far too long.
Set in a nursing home in Gravesend, Kent while a storm to end all storms (Storm Vera) blows outside, the play is awash with more than the flood water that threatens to take them out to sea.
A torrent of humour underpins the play from start to finish, a tribute to the writing skills of comedian Sandi Toksvig. It makes for a thoroughly enjoyable two hours (interval included). Come if you can.
Although this is an amateur production, the cast rise to the play’s demands quite magnificently. The home’s residents are an eclectic bunch of elderly women – some possessing more marbles than others – and the individual actors stamp their mark on their roles with a lovely dollop of panache.
On the surface, Gloria (an outstanding Melanie Sherwood) is quite a bubbly character who is not fazed by modern technology, dreams of sex and is clinging desperately to a scintilla of joie d’vivre. But she also possesses a dark side which reveals itself as the flood waters rise and the electrics fail.
Then there are squabbling sisters June (Liz Paulo) and May (Jo Metcalf) who are constantly at each other’s throats. It’s a love-hate relationship.
A slimmed down version of her former self, June is a combination of Christian self-righteousness and Middle England racism which does not endear herself to Hope Daley (Doris Allimadi) who is sent to rescue them.
Wheelchair bound May possesses an acid tongue and fires verbal volleys at June as if she were a machine gunner in the Second World War. Sarcasm is her middle name.
Making up the female characters are Maureen (Juliet England) who is as moody as the Gravesend skies and St Michael (Rowena Sterry) who says little, but owns a nice array of flashing sex toys more suited to women a third of her age. The sole male character is a rather unsavoury Jed (Dean Stephenson) whom is dealt with in splendid fashion by Maureen.
Although the first act is funnier than the second, it is in the play’s final embers when we begin to fully understand the characters – especially the sisters and Gloria. In the process, big issues such as sexuality are tackled.
Directed by Chris Moran, this production is full of zest. It is a victory for the kind of local theatre that we must endeavour to keep open. A community asset, a community must.
Silver Lining runs until May 27.