Printers Playhouse hosted a poignant new comedy play about growing old last week. A sweet delight, All Change told the heart-warming story of elderly Ivor and his long suffering daughter Lily, whilst the audience munched on cupcakes raising funds for the Alzheimers Society Cupcake Day.

All Change is based on close family experience and ‘Ivor’ ran the Brighton Marathon recently, complete with his tea-cosy on his head, a combination of sponsorship and selling cupcakes raising over £600 for the Alzheimers Society.

The play opens to strains of cheerful music and steam trains. Ivor waits in chaos, his train of thought broken by his derailed memory. Lily arrives to tidy him up, pack a bag or two, and prepare him for the inevitable moment when he has to move into a ‘home’. But change is never easy and Ivor won’t go quietly! The game ensues as Lily goes to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, Ivor ‘innocently’ tips out the contents of the bag looking for the milk.  Insights into the past are offered through neatly themed flashbacks as action in the present provokes memories of the past, the humour of the piece derived from the irascible old Ivor and the precocious young Lily as the shifting relationship between father and daughter is played out across the years.

But whilst this hugely relevant drama doesn’t just address the issue of failing memory but also caring for an aging parent whilst facing personal challenges, as Lily harbours a dark secret of her own. Viv Berry is superb as Lily, drawing out every once of humour in her quiet frustration with her old dad and wringing the audience out with the emotional denouement. Tim Marriott bumbles along as Ivor following his own fragmented logic, a tea-cosy keeping his head warm as he tries to stay on track with his daily crossword in a skilfully comedic, truthful and nuanced performance of a tightly woven and intelligently delivered script.

Director Nicholas Collett has done a terrific job in pacing this alternately funny and poignant piece, allowing the audience to breathe between moments of comedy and compassion. It is easy to be sucked into the world of Ivor and Lily as Collett allows Marriott and Berry to play, bouncing off each other with exceptional, naturalistic interpretations of character and clear generosity in performance creating an utterly believable and heart-wrenching relationship on stage. A 5* performance by an experienced team at the top of their game.

Reviewed by Peter Danes, June 13, 2019