Arts review: Broth

Dir. Donna Rutherford, Tron Theatre, 21st -22nd October 2015

Smells are one of the most powerful ways of jogging your memory, and none more so than the smell of soup. The initial whiff is enough to take you back to your gran’s kitchen where she made her signature bowl with a seemingly run-of-the-mill recipe and yet no one has come close to recreating the taste, the feeling, of her soup.

As Broth progresses, Donna Rutherford makes three separate soups in front of the audience. Gradually, their fragrance takes the room back to romanticised notions of youth, remembering coming in from the cold, or helping their granny out in the kitchen.

But what Broth does is juxtapose this very granny-like thing with the missing bits from the rest of your grandparents’ lives. Without asking for sympathy or pity, we are told personal accounts via video about growing older and how life changes once you are past retirement age.

Generational gaps mean that the life we lead as students in 2015 is nothing like the life our grandparents had at this age. Communities are not as tight-knit, and the advancement of technology is literally making us lonelier. Two million people over the age of 75 live alone in the UK, one and a half million of whom are women. More than half of older people polled believe the government see them as a low priority, and that once you reach a certain age people begin to treat you like children.

The short videos of older people addressing the audience show that while the body may deteriorate and make actions we take for granted earlier in life difficult, the mind is still very aware, often just as sharp as ever. The short term memory goes, but the older generation has more life skills than the rest of us. If Broth serves us one thing, it is a reminder that life does not end, nor get any less important, when you stop working. This is cosy activism, a reminder to phone your gran, to talk to people of all ages, and to never underestimate the lives of the old.

[Scott Wilson – @HeartofFire]

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