The obstinancy of the old in holding on to their lifelong gains, while the young wait impatiently for time to render them weak and vulnerable, is a well-worn theme, refreshed here by empathy and a dystopian vision we seem destined to create.
James Fritz’s three connected stories debate the value of life as it nears its end, and the National Youth Theatre’s ensemble cast throw themselves at these resonant themes with real vigour. Their youth brings home a certain incomprehension in the face of the ageing process, variously characterised as ‘disgusting’ and ‘sick’ and, in holding onto assets that would be of greater benefit to the young, are simply greedy.
This staging of intergenerational struggle finds its strongest moment in the concluding care home scene that is part One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, with its own Nurse Ratched, and part queasy believability in the now old woman’s journey to a state sanctioned demise. The only quibble is that performances tend to foreground technique at times, but overall The Fall moves towards a deeper and humane conclusion.
The Fall, Southwark Playhouse: 77-85 Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD. Tickets £16 - £20, until 19 May 2018.