Vault Festival: Take Care

Where

Network Theatre, Lower Road (access via Launcelot Street).

When

10-15 Mar, 6.15pm. Running time approx 1 hr. There will be a post-show discussion in the main Vault Festival building at 7.45pm after each performance.

Who

Produced by Ecoute Theatre, directed by Zoe Templeman-Young. Created by Cathy Lynch, Sam McLaughlin, and Zoe Templeman-Young. Performed by Hal Geller, Grace Saif, Sam McLaughlin and Zoe Templeman-Young.

What

Take Care tells the real-life stories of carers for older people, unveiling the messy, hilarious, frustrating world of care.

Sam McLaughlin in Take Care. Courtesy Ecoute Theatre.
Sam McLaughlin in Take Care. Courtesy Ecoute Theatre.

How

Take Care is a verbatim play, taken completely from over sixty interviews, a selection of which are presented in this production created and performed for Vault Festival.

Four actors, including co-creators Sam McLaughlin and Zoe Templeman-Young (who also directs), portray nineteen characters in an hour, weaving pertinent points around care of the elderly and the state of subsidied care in the UK.

Weaved around this is the story of Pam (Grace Saif) who struggles to get her declining mum admitted to a care home near enough for her to regularly visit and ensure she is OK.

I completely support the political leaning of this play, which is purely on the side of those failed by successive governments and constant health service underfunding. These stories need to be told and heard, from all perspectives (carers, families, the elderly).

Flyer image for Take Care. Courtesy Ecoute Theatre.
Flyer image for Take Care. Courtesy Ecoute Theatre.

Take Care includes many viewpoints which I found myself nodding along with, having experienced both public and private care of elderly members of my own family over the past twenty-five years.

Where it succeeds is when a statement is made that pulls you up short: Pam’s experience, yes, but also middle-class Charlie who is at breaking-point, new student nurse Steph who points out how young people’s care is valued above that of those late in life, and Ruth, who finds herself without a purpose after a long time in unpaid caring.

What doesn’t work so well, for me, are speeches underscored by background music and effects, as I found this distracting, and also although the accents are there like the slight costume changes to identify characters they seem to self-parody some speeches, losing the important points being made.

Take Care can be as funny as old people can be, even when sick and senile, or as heartbreaking as watching a loved one slip away or suffering neglect where the profit margin matters more than individual dignity.

Judgement: Wow, Meow, or Furred Brow?

It’s a loud Meow for Take Care. It’s a brave and powerful piece but it could continue to develop to make it hit its targets even more effectively.

The use of politician voice-overs is good, and the four performers (Hal Geller as the only male voice) bring to life a range of viewpoints, but I’d welcome more of a sense of drama in Pam’s story and an expansion of sone of the other characters.

However, this is a crucial piece of work in the current political climate with a lot to say, and in arranging these interview segments, it makes its point in a thoughtful yet forceful way.

LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to see Take Care.

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