Road To Nowhere
by James McMahon - Theatre Reviews Ireland
October 11, 2007
Time moves on, and what this production proves is that it is best to go with the flow, and speak in the language that those who have power and influence will understand.
Starring: Young@Heart Chorus in association with No Theatre
Location & Date: O'Reilly Theatre until 14 October
In a world where the tendency to compartmentalise is all pervasive, insofar that people and or situations can be easily bracketed and have no recourse to question the decision, it is refreshing to see a bucking of the trend.
The Young @ Heart chorus is an elderly performance group from Northampton in Massachusetts. They have been doing their thing since 1982 and their routine is not what one would normally expect of a troupe ranging in age from 71 to 88.
They perform chorale versions of tunes by Talking Heads (hence, the title of this show), Roxy Music, The Clash, The Ramones, The Beatles, Lou Reed, Coldplay, Radiohead & Jimmy Hendrix.
Led by their director Bob Cilman and accompanied by The Young @ Heart Band, the chorus has toured the world and while the turnover rate, as one would naturally expect, is high, one constant has remained, in that being over the hill is purely a state of mind.
As for the show itself, performed before a packed auditorium in the O'Reilly Theatre, what is immediately apparent is that the chorus love being on the stage and while it takes some time to get used to the various interpretations, this only added to the entertainment value.
Some of the chorus have been singing all their lives, while others only started in the last 20 years and this fusion is interesting - you know that not everybody can hit the high notes - it's their presence on stage that is the most interesting. Out of this comes much humour, but the overall tone of the show is somewhat serious, in that it looks at the culture of older people at work and the ageing process.
Many of the lyrics sung reinforce an act of defiance, insofar that many of the elderly known to the group are not in a position to retire at 65 and continue to work in supermarkets and fast food outlets frequented by the younger generation.
The Animals' ''We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' a reminder of what some are forced to do in order to survive, while the lyrics from 'Road to Nowhere' "We're not little children & we know" and John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy' heightens further the exasperated mood.
Somewhat more reflective was the rendition of U2's 'One' in expressing the view that we all need love, irrespective of age and physical well-being. The concluding 'Forever Young' was a fitting finale, poignant in its expression and delivery, yet overwhelmingly uplifting.
A visual presentation that showed the performers as much younger people, and grainy black and white footage of American society circa 1920s & 30s acutely depicted another era.
Time moves on, and what this production proves is that it is best to go with the flow, and speak in the language that those who have power and influence will understand. A triumph for all concerned!