Old Fools – the Director’s Preview

Director and Theatre Committee member Mark Ireson introduces his latest play, a two-hander opening next week.

Tell us how and why you chose Old Fools

One of the great joys of theatregoing is seeing something that grips from the off, where you can’t wait to see what happens to these characters. Tristan Bernays’ script about memories of life, love and loss is one of those. It has something in common with great modern plays like Constellations and Betrayal, then uses a clever, original idea to slide from scene to scene, like memory does. I fell for it in the original production at Southwark Playhouse last year, and so has everyone since who has had the chance to read the script.

Give us an outline of what happens

Tom is a jazz pianist and Viv is a linguist. They meet in their twenties, fall deeply in love and navigate the highs and lows of life between then and old age… but not necessarily in that order. By turns it’s passionate, funny and heartbreaking, but it’s difficult to say a great deal more without giving spoilers.

Your last play (Nell Gwynn) had a large cast, whereas this is a two-hander. How does that challenge you differently as a director?

Well, there are no wigs, dogs or giant hats to juggle this time! Old Fools is a really intimate play, performed close up and in the round with just a pair of chairs, so there’s little in the way of big set pieces and much more opportunity to focus on intense personal relationships. The cast spend the entire show onstage, which could be really intimidating for them, but David and Laura have been so enthusiastic and skilful at getting inside their characters, it has been an absolute joy in the rehearsal room.

We’ve seen a foxtrotting photo – what else can we expect from your actors?

Joy and pain, laughter and tears. Much like life, really.


Old Fools runs from 16 – 20 April at the Old Fire Station, and tickets are on sale here.