The producers of Senior Moments have hit a jackpot with this delightful production which attracted capacity houses for each of its four Canberra performances. Describing itself as “a comedy revue about ‘old’ people and the young people they have to deal with”, with a running time of 90 minutes without interval, the show delivers exactly what it promises, a series of old-fashioned comedy sketches and point songs around the subject of ageing.
Though the writing is not as sharp as might be expected, the parody lyrics don’t always scan, and the targets for the good natured sketches are patently obvious, it’s refreshing to harken back to the revue format, rather than aging celebrities reprising their party pieces. The brilliance of this concept however is in the casting.
Max Gillies, John Wood, Benita Collings and Geoff Harvey are familiar favourites. Gillies and Wood, in particular, are old hands at this kind of material and in their hands even the most mundane script produces belly-laughs. It’s more about what they don’t say, as both are masters of the feigned surprised look, the sustained pause, and subtle physical comedy.
In another time, Gillies might have been a baggy pants comedian up there with George Wallace Snr, or Bobby LeBrun. It’s a shame that imaginative television writers don’t look beyond his fame as a political satirist, to explore ways to harness his excellent character-acting skills in a dramatic context.
Perhaps labouring a point about reading a phone book, his delightful delivery of some instructions to a senior audience, which opens the show, proves he could do this, and towards the end of the show, his sketch with Wood concerning two elderly friends who each admit to each other that they are gay, are among the evening’s highlights.
Benita Collings delights with her warmth and charm, although the send-up of Play School is a bit laboured and not as funny as it could be, ultimately outliving its welcome. At this particular performance Geoff Harvey was indisposed and Canberra pianist Colin Forbes very capably filled in for him at short notice.
Though not as immediately recognisable as the headliners, Russell Newman, Kim Lewis, Emily Taylor and Christian Barratt-Hill all brought a wealth of experience to the show, which was given an enthusiastic reception by the audience.
Don’t be put off by the title, Senior Moments is a delightfully refreshing entertainment guaranteed to delight its target audience, and perhaps surprise a few reluctant companions.
PS: Make sure you collect one of the excellent free programs. It will keep you chuckling for the rest of the week.
Canberra Theatre Centre, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Saturday 9 March 2019
Senior Moments is currently touring across Australia to selected venues. For more information, visit: www.seniormomentsshow.com.au for details.
Image: John Wood, Max Gillies, Benita Collings and Geoff Harvey (supplied)
Review: Bill Stephens OAM