Every Seven Years, New Wimbledon Studio - Review

Taking its name from the time all the cells in the human body are said to replenish themselves (essentially making us 'brand new people'), Every Seven Years is the brainchild of Charlotte Baker and Ben Fensome who wrote and perform the show, with direction by Scott Le Crass.

Every Seven Years charts the life of Pamela and Ralph, from their days at university to when they are well into their eighth decade. Eschewing artificial aids, the actors with a minimum of fuss (and props) convey the gradual effect of time on their movement and disposition.

As you would expect, their early years – their 'honeymoon' period – sees them happy and making plans for the future, but things take an interesting turn from their mid-30s onwards. One of things I liked about the characters is their regional backgrounds. Instead of the traditional RP characters onstage, we're introduced to a woman from Newcastle and a man from the West Country, each gently taking the mick out of each other for 'not speaking properly'.

As the number of obstacles to happiness escalates – an increase in the number of arguments, a daughter with behavioural problems, the first buds of an affair... – the couple end up focusing less on themselves and more on the demands of the immediate and extended family. Marriage, as shown here, isn't just about caring for an individual but making allowances for their kin as well.

While landmark events such as Pam's 50th birthday  are covered (a very funny scene involving a not-so-secret party!) most of the events and topics covered are of a smaller, relatable nature – the stuff of everyday life. That's not to stay there's no 'magic' from time to time. In one memorable scene when the couple are at retirement age, Tina Charles' I Love To Love on the radio prompts an impromptu dance, conveying better than any speech the affection that's kept them together for the past 40+ years.

It is evident from the attention to detail that the actors have bestowed upon this play that is a labour of love for them. While it doesn't provide 'answers', Every Seven Years resonates with its audience as it lays bare the cumulative affect that time has on marriages in the long-term.

Every Seven Years ran at the New Wimbledon Studio on 13th and 14th May 2016, as part of the Illuminate Festival at New Wimbledon Studio.




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