A Month of Sundays
By Bob Larbey
29th March - 3rd April, 2010
The play is set in a rest home and revolves around two residents: Cooper, who has voluntarily left his family to avoid the indignity of depending on them, and his friend Aylott, both on the verge of some geriatric embarrassment. To the painful ritual of Sunday family visits and empty condescension the two inmates reply with humour and wit, aware that life can only be endured if treated as a comedy. A warm hearted play.
“A Month of Sundays” was first produced by BLT in 1993 with Gordon Sugden, who tonight plays Aylott ,as Cooper. It is a play which has stood the test of time. (Not all do, as any reading of a past productions list will show) because it is well-written, its characters are rounded and well-observed ,it’s funny, and, above all, true. I am pleased that our Reading and Casting Committee has chosen to revive it.
Cooper, the central character, has, in his old age, taken control of his life.
His loved wife dead ,he has bought himself independence in a care home. Refusing to be a burden, he deals with age’s inevitabilities with wit and humour,and not a little heroism. He and Aylott refuse to be maudlin ,insisting in a magnificently English and understated way that they “mustn’t grumble”. We see Cooper’s relationships with all around him. Sometimes they are difficult, but underneath I hope it’s not too far-fetched to claim this play as a sequence of little love-stories between a man coming towards the end of his life and those closest to him.
That’s the plot. The style? Comic. Such a subject could lend itself to a downbeat piece. When it was first known that we were to produce “A Month of Sundays” a long-established member of the Theatre(I’m using the sort of euphemism Cooper would deplore!) reacted by saying “What a depressing subject!” But in my opinion Bob Larbey has written –as in his “Good Life” scripts-an amusing, ironic and ultimately uplifting piece with Cooper and Aylott at least thumbing their noses at ‘that Good Night’ which Dylan Thomas insists we rage against. “I pray” wrote the aging W.B. Yeats “that I may seem, though I die old, a foolish passionate man” In their own ways Cooper and Aylott have a brave stab at that lofty ambition.
Director: Robin Martin
PS One modification we have made to Bob Larbey’s original text: the stage directions describe Cooper as ‘rather frail…in his late 60s’. Those of us who now approach (or who may have passed) that age are not having that! Cooper, in our production, is a good ten years older. The necessity to age-up perhaps give us all cause for optimism I hope that .Mr Larbey (born 1934) would –twenty years on - agree!