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End of the Road: MIF review

Sarah Tierney is well impressed by the Young@Heart chorus at RNCM

Published on July 15th 2009.

End of the Road: MIF review

A choir of grey-haired elders singing songs about getting old. Summed up like this, it's perhaps no surprise that End of the Road by the Young@Heart chorus and No Theater hasn't been the hottest MIF ticket in town.

You don't expect older people to swear at you. You don't expect them to work the dance floor in funeral clothes and spit out the lyrics to 'What Do I Get?'

But those who have seen it have been treated to something all together wonderful. Tuesday night's performance got an overwhelming response from the audience with a standing ovation and some of the most enthusiastic whistling and whooping I've heard in a long time.

Initially, you're not sure what to make of End of the Road. The set features a drinks bar, a dance floor, and centre-stage, a triangular structure containing a glass revolving door which chorus members go through as they enter the stage.

In passing through the door, they could be passing over from one world to the next, or just from one stage of their life to another. The theme of the show is old age; a time of change, loss, reminiscence, and in this show at least, celebration.

Dressed in what could be described as their 'going out clothes' – sequinned tops, frocks, slick suits, and jaunty hats, the chorus perform songs from the last 60 years or so of popular music.

They range from unbearably sad (an elderly man's rendition of Bruce Springsteen's 'You're Missing' is a particular tear-jerker) to the joyful. A full-chorus version of Sly and The Family Stone's 'Dance to the Music' had the audience out of their seats and joining in, after one of the Young@Heart ladies unceremoniously told us to 'get up and dance to the fucking music.'

You don't expect older people to swear at you. You don't expect them to work the dance floor in funeral clothes and spit out the lyrics to 'What Do I Get?' This breaking down of expectations is part of what makes End of the Road powerful.

The over-75s are one of the least vocal section of society, not often audible above the 'look at me' clamour of the young. By staking their claim on popular music, they make their thoughts, concerns, and feelings heard.

Manchester songs featured in the show include Morrissey's 'Sing Your Life' and Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. This number is cheekily followed by the 1960s classic 'Gonna Get Along Without You Now' sang by an unashamedly chirpy band of merry widows.

The Traveling Wilbury's 'Handle With Care' is another highlight, with its lyrics complaining of being 'robbed and ridiculed in day care centres and night schools', and a plaintive chorus of 'I'm so tired of being lonely, I've still got some love to give'.

The Pixies, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Nirvana are among the many other acts whose lyrics are given new life and new meanings when they come out of the mouths of the old.

It's a very simple concept – older people singing younger people's songs – but it creates something profound. Watching this show, your mood will soar and nose-dive at an alarming rate. It's an intense and moving experience. Go and see it if you can.

Young@Heart in End of the Road by No Theater at the RNCM, Friday 10 July to Saturday 18 July, £15/£27.50. For more information and tickets click here or call 0844 815 4960.

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JJJuly 15th 2009.

Wonderful. I cried, laughed, danced, sang and silently promised to be a more patient daughter.

rosieJuly 15th 2009.


rosieJuly 15th 2009.

you signing up then?

DigJuly 15th 2009.

I thought that read 'MILF' review for a minute then. The pictures and your comments had me worried there Mark.

John WilliamsJuly 15th 2009.

Agree completely with Lee - perfect.

Mark Garner, the PublisherJuly 15th 2009.

Are you being cheeky Rosie?

LeeBJuly 15th 2009.

One of the most profound experiences i've ever had. It's a sad, joyful, life affirmingy great show, I felt privileged to have been in their presence. Well done MIF.

Mark Garner, the PublisherJuly 15th 2009.

I went last night, this was a sheer delight, poignant, working some really fabulous material and transfering it into fairy dust. A delightful bunch of frail old buggers with huge, ageless pumping hearts. Loved it.

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