OLD-ISH by Susan Freedman (GoodSide Productions/Fringe). At Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. July 8 at 3:45 pm, July 9 at 10:15 pm, July 10 at 4:45 pm, July 12 at 5:15 pm, July 13 at 1 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Susan Freedman’s solo play Old-ish is a joy. The 77-year-old’s play may be about aging and death, but its effect is life-enhancing and Freedman herself is an inspiration.
Freedman focuses on what happens when we realize that the category of “people who die” no longer includes those older than we are, like parents or grandparents, but people of our own age. Youth notoriously have little sense of their own mortality, but Freedman says she experienced such a feeling early on when as a young girl she accidentally slid under a Winnipeg transit bus and saw the undercarriage pass over her.
Freedman tells us that for a long time she was in a state of denial about aging and death, despite the increase over time in her body’s failings. Now, she boasts she is in the blissful state of “Screw it.” This means that the notion of death on the horizon no longer inhibits her pleasure in life but, in fact, increases it.
The play is beautifully written and filled with memorably pithy remarks. Freedman’s warm, personable delivery and her supremely dry wit make her seem like that older friend or relative whose stories always lift your spirits. Older people will relate to Freedman’s trenchant observations. Younger people should find comfort in Freedman as living proof that aging can actually lead to happiness.