The Lounge at Summerhall
The Lounge is a masterclass in character acting and social commentary. Set in the lounge of a stagnant care home. The play presents the last day of Marsha Hewitt’s 97-year-long life, as she endures patronising carers, uninspiring company and mind-numbing daytime television during a resolute bid for freedom.
Theatre company Inspector Sands seeks “the epic in the everyday and the everyday in the epic”. Its lens focuses in on and zooms out of perfectly crafted minutiae, revealing them to be the building blocks of soaring grand narratives, of mortality and dignity. This production deftly alternates between the commonplace and little glimpses of the sublime, holding its audience rapt throughout. The Lounge draws inspiration from the Mass Observation Movement, in which everyday life reflects socio-political pictures on a grander scale. Here, one old woman’s desire for peace poses weightier questions on fragility, identity and British attitudes to the older generation.
Lucinka Eisler plays Marsha Hewitt with spot-on physicality. As she visibly assumes the role of 97-year-old Marsha she seems to slowly settle down into her bones while youthfulness drains from her face. Giulia Innocenti and Ben Lewis switch between several supporting characters, often transforming artfully from one to another while crossing the stage. Innocenti’s gratingly chirpy carer Valentina is a particular treat to watch.
The play is scattered with clever little details: Marsha’s irritating fellow care home resident munches a biscuit deafeningly loudly; a real, steaming hot dinner complete with compacted sphere of mash is served; and an actor provides the song on the radio from the side of the stage. Theatricality is not just explored but revelled in.
Charmingly funny throughout, frequently surreal, sometimes devastating but ultimately uplifting, The Lounge is one of the best shows you’ll see at Edinburgh Fringe 2016.
The Lounge is at Summerhall from 3rd August until 27th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.