The Lounge is a play set in a care-home. Two workers invite a new woman in, sit her down and she becomes absorbed by the life, or lack of it, in the care-home.
This is a dark comedy, showing the inane, mind-numbing atmosphere of life in residential care, through excellent use of silence, as well as language and sound. The woman who we saw brought in shrinks down to a shell of her former self in front of our eyes. As she sits in the chair, with the staff busy-bodying around her, calling her 'my darling' and constantly offering cups of tea, we hear the voice in her mind describing the scene. She is clearly irritated by the noise of the staff and the TV and the fly in the light and it becomes clear that she would just like to die in peace, but she can't. While there is nothing happening, there is also a constant, omnipotent hum of monotonous activity from which she can't seem to escape.
The show is darkly amusing; capturing the uncomfortable boredom she suffers brilliantly. But it is also harrowing. We eventually find out the woman's name is Marsha, and we hear about the home she has lost and the life she left behind. We find out that she would rather die than suffer in here any longer.
The show is perfect in every way, with a fantastic set that evokes a waiting room, genius scene changes - which remind us of busy life outside of what is literally described as a 'dead zone' - and wonderful use of lighting and sound effects, created off stage in real time. The three actors are incredibly talented, brilliantly aging forty years just through their fantastic physical expressions and demeanor. Equally, the writing of the play was beautiful, with an articulate manipulation of the language it uses, paralleling inane lists of cereal and biscuit options with glimpses into the world outside through a list of everything humans can do in their lifetimes.
Combining humour with difficult scenes of suffering and sadness, the show was intensely emotive and wonderfully creative. This was an utterly stellar performance and an absolutely wonderful piece of contemporary theatre.
* * * * *
The Lounge is at Summerhall at 15:25, until 27 Aug (excl 15). Tickets and more information are available on the EdFringe website.