Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! @ Summerhall

What might have been a dark comedy on the frustrations of ageing relies too heavily on a predictable shtick

Review by Dominic Corr | 19 Aug 2019
  • Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! @ Summerhall

Die! Die! Die! Die Old People Die! It's a punchy title, the kind you might expect from provacative duo Ridiculusmus. The show begins with an elderly couple, sticking together through thick and thin, taking a walk to the table. They keep walking and walking, for what feels like an age. A comedic tone is present from the outset, and be warned – if you don’t laugh within the first five minutes, you won’t for the remaining fifty-five.

There are visual gags, gross humour and a wealth of physical silliness, but the essential message remains the same: old people are one big, tediously long joke. That's the shtick we're running with; the daily struggles of the elderly, and the repetitious routines they adhere to until the grave.

The production does come close to being insightful and dignified at certain points. We're reminded of the futile struggles the elderly face with simple tasks such as feeding themselves, and of the painful frustrations of dementia. There’s a tenderness which pops in on occasion, such as when David Woods' old man fawns over his wife lovingly, also divulging a previous relationship with friend Arthur (Jon Hayes, who also plays Vi).

Without question, the physical level of performance is astonishing. Woods adheres to the glacial pace he sets himself throughout, never wavering. His under-the-breath delivery and swearing at a cuckoo clock does generate laughs.

But ultimately, Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! is disappointing. It could have been a clever comedy, addressing one of our deepest fears, ageing. Instead, predictability is rampant in this intriguingly physical yet one-note show that should have been better.

Die! Die! Die! Old People Die!, Summerhall (Techcube 0), until 25 Aug, 5.40pm, £8-10