- Arusa Qureshi
- 6 August 2017
Poignant take on the effects of austerity on the older generation
When Robert Dawson Scott wrote his new play Assessment, he perhaps didn't expect it to be quite so timely. But the recent announcement of the government's plans to accelerate the rise in the state pension age has brought to the fore the very questions that the play seeks to address.
Set in a future where extreme policies are put in place to cap the pensions deficit, Assessment explores the impact of the so-called demographic time-bomb. Alan McDonald is considered a candidate for the government's new Pension Exchange Scheme, but in order to qualify for the lump sum payment of £35,000, he must give up his pension rights and, in turn, his life.
Stephen Clyde's gruff and unyielding Alan is particularly affecting alongside Karen Bartke's performance as his dispirited daughter, with their relationship drawing attention to the burden of old age and the desperation of the younger generation.
In a notably poignant scene, Alan drunkenly discusses his morality with a photo of his deceased wife, coming to the realisation that in death he may at least be useful to those around him. Through its discussion of society's alienation and abandonment of the elderly, Assessment succeeds in placing a sharp focus on the way in which the value of life is diminished by the current austerity-driven political climate.
Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, until 28 Aug (not 15), 2.30pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9).