Review: Maurice’s Jubilee at the Aylesbury Waterside
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Like many of you, I’ve been to the theatre a lot over the years, but I can probably count on my fingers and toes the productions that I really connected with, that I didn’t quietly look at my watch about 20 minutes in and think, ‘When’s the interval?’.
Maurice’s Jubilee is not an easy sell. It’s about two married pensioners in their eighties, Maurice (a brilliant Julian Glover) and Helena (Sheila Reid). Maurice has a fixation on the Queen, Helena yearns for former times when they had money and status. The third character is nurse Katy (Nichola McAuliffe) who has just started as Maurice’s carer because of his terminal brain cancer. So far so cheerful!
I know, I know, it sounds morbid, but sometimes the most unappealing subjects can be brilliant experiences. I had no expectations of Maurice’s Jubilee – in fact, went into it almost blind, a useful by-product of my lack of organisation. I’m enjoying not knowing a thing about a performance, just judging purely on what I see rather than what I’m told.
1. It’s funny. A sell-out at last year’s Edinburgh Festival, there’s plenty of well-observed humour – enough to get a round of applause in the second half when a certain celebrity arrives at the front door. It’s well observed too. I could recognise my parents in the main characters, could relate to the intimacy and irritation of long term partnerships, feel the complexity of family relationships.
2. The acting is superb. Julian Glover and Nicola McAuliffe (who also wrote the play) have both previously won Olivier Awards while Sheila Reid, probably best known for Benidorm on TV, has worked with everyone from Laurence Oliver to Terry Gilliam. They raised an already clever script to something special.
3. Ultimately Maurice’s Jubilee is very moving. My friend and I were both a bit weepy at the end, but it was understated and beautiful rather than mawkish.
Obviously this isn’t a play that’s going to suit everyone and if you’re in the mood for musical comedy you might save yourself the bother of complaining in the comment box LOL! But if you can go in with an open mind, I think you’ll love it.
Maurice’s Jubilee is at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until Saturday 2 February. Tickets £10-32. Buy here.