Waiting for God

By Michael Aitkens

Theatre Royal Bath

Until Saturday, May 27

GROWING old disgracefully becomes more appealing the older one gets. The TV original of Waiting for God (starring Stephanie Cole and Graham Crowden) was on screen 25 years ago. But oddly the themes need no updating.

The comedy was succinctly written into the characters, rather than their era, and the irritations and limitations of growing older do not change. Sadly attitudes to the elderly have not made much progress either.

Nichola McAuliffe and Jeffrey Holland step into big shoes to take on the roles of Diana and Tom, a pair of oddballs who meet as neighbours in an (upmarket) old people’s home. But they both embrace the characters and give them depth.

McAuliffe as the cynical one-time photojournalist and hell-raiser, cursing the physical restrictions of arthritis and sundry ‘what-can-you-expect-at-your-age’ ailments, is an inspiration for people who defy assumptions and stereotyping.

Holland is endearingly not as dotty as he makes out, keeping his boring son (played by David Benson) and dipsomaniac daughter-in-law at bay with outbreaks of choreographed lunacy.

All the TV characters are there, including the odious self-seeking manager Harvey Baines (Samuel Collings) and his simpering assistant Jane (Emily Pithon), but it is not necessary to be familiar with the small screen version to appreciate the comedy.

This is a complete story, standing on its own merits.

Aitkens’ script is a gift to actors with good pace and timing, which this cast have. Minimal set changes add to the brisk continuity.