This show is intelligent, beautiful, heartfelt, well performed, and worth every single one of your pennies. Probably even more. It follows the life of two (unfairly attractive) people, marking 3 significant points in their lives, starting when they were young, at the very height of the Second World War, then again in the 50's/60's and finally in the late 90's. Each of these "Acts" have a very significant feel, and can be divided into youthful innocence, middle aged resentment, and then the loneliness of old age, and in each one I felt my emotions go all over the place. Nothing about this performance felt accidental or underrehearsed. This play is truly a masterpiece.
This play has 3 elements, that make it incredible. These are the actors, the production, and the story. The actors (Valorie Curry and Sam Underwood) were flawless, playing perfectly off eachother, making each line important, and clear and delivered with perfect timing. Their performances as a whole make all other actors seem wooden, as the play between the two of them was sublime. Their ages were clear, right from the moment the lights came up on the scene you knew exactly what stage of life they were in, and their exact emotions. It felt like they had actually aged, and they looked older. These actors, that hadn't left the stage, and didn't apply make-up of any sort looked the age they were playing. This I think is a testament to the skill and training of the performers. Everything in this piece was flawless, but the actors are beyond that. They are exceptional, and their delivery is euphoric.
The production too was superb, with a very simple, and easily modulated set (done by Curry and Underwood, completely in character); and again a very simple - but effective - sound and light design. Each photon of light was carefully calculated to create maximum effect, creating highlights and shade to pull the audience and set the scene. Weather was clear, the time of day was clear, the setting was clear. Just from the lights. There was nothing that was unnecessary either, every light was selected and used to the greatest possible effect. On stage there was 2 chairs, 2 suitcases and a large, white cloth. From the suitcases the actors took their costumes for the next scene – getting changed in perfect synchronisation. The sound design too, set the scenes, from war-torn Britain, to a snowy park, every moment of silence was perfection. A moment to reflect on what had been said, and anticipate what might happen.
You cannot have great actors and production, without a fabulous script to work off. This is most certainly the case here. Payne's writing is insightful, clever, and incredibly witty (while these are all synonyms for "smart" they all have different implications, hence why I selected them). His writing opens up the potential for incredible exploration of the story, the characters and ourselves. More than that his command of the english language is exceptional, allowing the audience to fall in love with these characters, and weep for these characters. There is a moment in the third act where the characters become – for a moment – full of youth and energy, and after that moment there was not a single dry face in the audience, let alone a dry eye.
This show is unmissable. If anything, just for the truly gorgeous performers – it is actually sickening at how attractive Curry and Underwood are individually, let alone as a couple. But the real clincher for this show is the story. Just go see it.
One Day When We Were Young is performing every day at the Assembly George Square Theatre until the 31st August. For tickets and more information, visit the link.