Soho Theatre meets... Inspector Sands #TheLounge

Tue 18 April

We had a chat with Inspector Sands ahead of their run of The Lounge here from April 25

Nice to meet you, what’s your name(s)?
We are Inspector Sands, aka Ben, Lucinka and Giulia.

Where are you (all) from and how did you get here? And was it difficult?
We’re from London. We’ve been on a long journey with this show. It’s taken us about 3 years to get here. But we’re happy to have arrived!

What is your show about?
It’s about growing old, today. It’s about how we care for those who are already old – is it still possible to have any kind of agency or sense of purpose when you’re old, frail and dependent on others? What makes life worth living in this state? It’s about us, as 40 year olds engaging with the notion of our own ageing process. And questioning why as a nation we are so ill-prepared to care for an ageing population. Is it something to do with a refusal even to imagine that we too will one day be old? We try to make that leap of the imagination. The show focuses on Marsha Hewitt, 97 who finds herself spending her final months in a care home lounge where the tv is always on. The sudden arrival of Mark, a young man with a crippling sense of his own mortality, turns Marsha’s world upside down. Told through the eyes of three care workers, the Lounge is a humorous and deadly serious portrayal of what’s left of life within the lounge’s four walls, with the tv as prime companion.

What research did you do to understand the difficulties, challenges and limitations of ageing?
The project was made with support from the Wellcome Trust and we worked with a panel of experts in gerontology and care for the older generation. This hugely informed the process and content of the show. For example we spent time working with a Feldenkrais practitioner, Ryan Jansen, who helped us understand some of the most common ways in which movement becomes limited in older age and the huge effect that simple limitations like stiffness in the hips can have on balance, proprioception and therefore the risk of falling…. A domino effect which is a familiar story for many older people. Ryan also helped us see how at least some of these changes are not the inevitable result of ageing but more the result of how we use our bodies throughout our lives. We also worked with careworkers and medical staff who were full of anecdotes about their experiences of working with older people and sat in on rehearsals, contributing reflections on the action, sound and visual design and atmosphere of the scenes. Finally we ran intergenerational workshops bringing together care home service users with teenagers, exploring the theme of ageing and how world views and experience vary between the generations.

How do you prepare for your show? Any rituals before going on stage?
We lie down. We warm up. We play the foot game. We sing a song. Then someone shouts at us to get off stage and we’re ready.

And after the show?
We go to the bar.

And where are you going after here?
We don’t know yet! Hopefully The Lounge will go on tour in the UK. We’re also in the process of developing a Swedish adaptation of The Lounge for Riksteatern, Sweden, which will then tour the whole of Sweden. Watch this space!

You can catch Ben, Lucinka and Giulia here in The Lounge from April 25 until May 20

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