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‘Out of Season’ – new play by actor Neil D’Souza charts Middle Youth (50s) still looking for a good time…

‘Out of Season’ – new play by actor Neil D’Souza charts Middle Youth (50s) still looking for a good time…

It’s not just young folks who go to the Spanish holiday island of Ibiza to shed a few inhibitions…and below we review this drama…

SOME folks might not understand the term ‘Middle Youth’ but it is one that playwright and actor Neil D’Souza recognises and deals with in his new play, ‘Out of Season’.

Three guys who were in a band at university go away to Ibiza to the same hotel where they lived it up some 30 years earlier. They return to the same establishment, older but not necessarily wiser.

One is married, while two have remained single and there on the Spanish island, they encounter two single women, one in her 30s and another in her 40s.

That is the broad plot outline – it has some music too which D’Souza himself wrote and it is billed as a comedy…

Dev (Neil D’Souza) Michael (James Hillier)
and Chris (Peter Bramhill)

He plays one of the three men – Dev. Peter Bramhill plays Chris; and James Hillier is Michael. The two women are Catrin Aaron who is Amy, while Kerry Bennett is Holly.

“They are reliving their youth in a way,” D’Souza told just before press night. “They had a moment when their band was just about to take off and one of them leaves. Their personal histories are important for the play as it goes on.”

Intriguing – and not much is written about middle aged men who haven’t got married, don’t have children or too many responsibilities in later life – at least, not so much as a subject group for drama.

“It is about men and women who haven’t had kids and they are living in that reality of being young still – but aren’t actually,” pointed out D’Souza. “They’re in the 50s. They are still in a sort of extended youth – they’re the sort of people who would go to Glastonbury (the country’s largest music festival) – they’re in their middle youth.”

D’Souza says there are some parallels to his own life – he isn’t married and concedes he is the type who might go to Glastonbury, if someone invited him.

“Hampstead Theatre was interested in older men without kids. I did go to Ibiza for a 50th birthday party and the writing of it was sparked by that.”

D’ Souza told acv that some people feel compelled to justify themselves at a certain age and the play does deal with expectations and where one is in life…

“Aren’t we allowed to enjoy ourselves? If we want to go to Ibiza, why can’t we? It’s not just 20 year olds out there, you meet even 70 year olds – that’s why I wanted to write about it – there are a lot of people living their middle youths (without children) and I don’t think there is much in the theatre about them.”

He said the title itself gives some indication of how this holiday pans out.

“It’s kind of jokey and it was the title I started with in draft I and refers to the purgatory of extended youth.

“I think Hampstead Theatre was interested in people having a good time and negotiating their lives at this point.”

He said Dev’s Indian heritage is an important part of the play.

Dev (Neil D’Souza) and Holly (Kerry Bennett)

“You can’t lift that out. You would be altering the play quite significantly – it’s two white guys and an Indian one.

“One of the women they meet is mixed race too and there’s some romance but it’s not too heavy – I like the comedy that comes from the characters having a different perspective to when they were young and the fact that the three of them have changed.”

The play also deals with elderly parents in declining health and one of the characters has lost his parents.

D’Souza says writing ‘Out of Season’ helped him come to terms with his own mother’s passing last spring.

“Writing is an interior kind of art you do on your own – I was still able to write comedy – there’s comedy in funeral, and death and to me it is linked with desperation – comedy and tragedy are not that far apart.”

This is D’Souza’s third play – after ‘Small Miracle’ (Colchester) and ‘Coming up’ (Watford).

Out of Season’ is directed by Alice Hamilton, Hampstead Theatre’s associate director.

(Sailesh Ram)

‘Out of Season’ by Neil D’Souza from Friday, (February 16) to Saturday, March 23.
Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, Eton Avenue, London NW3 3EU.
Monday- Saturday 7.45pm, Matinees 2.45pm (Thursday & Saturday).

Funny, tragic, beautifully performed…

Holly (Kerry Bennett) and Dev (Neil D’Souza)

By Suman Bhuchar

CHRIS, Dev and Michael have been friends for around 30 years and they are going back to the same hotel and room 547 in Ibiza to celebrate Chris turning 50! They were once in a band – The Frampton Sound Experiment.

Chris (Peter Bramhill) is an eternal student type character who never committed, plays the guitar and lives for his next ‘Rula Lenska’ (a drink they invented years ago) – they talk about women, getting laid, not having children, success and general reflections on life in middle age, while still trying to behave youthfully. Basically, they are having a mid-life crisis, sort of, when we meet them.

Dev (Neil D’ Souza, who is also the writer) is a taciturn type who works as a professor and has regrets about his life. He is played as a British Asian character sans stereotyping.  The first act is all light comedy quips, fast talking banter, while they wait for their friend, Michael (James Hillier) and the two guys have a mutual rapport and understanding.  Meanwhile, Chris meets Holly (Kerry Bennett) and her friend Amy (Catrin Aaron) and is hoping for a good time.

The set by Janet Bird is a light hotel room bathed in colours of orange blue, all summery, with a fake Picasso painting on the wall, and an outside balcony that makes you feel like you need a beach vacation.

Hampstead Downstairs is such a versatile space and you feel you are almost intruding into the bedroom conversation between these friends, who are sharing a room with a double bed – which sends them into an initial tizzy but it is really two single beds that can be pulled apart.

The Second Act turns a bit more serious and dark.

A week has passed by and the boys are settled in and then their long awaited friend Michael, who was also in the band, has finally turned up. He is now a successful music agent based in La-La Land, so he uses his power to upset the dynamics between the friends and their newly cultivated relationships with the women. Other secrets also come to light.

Out of Season’ is directed by Alice Hamilton, associate director at Hampstead and it features music and song.

The female performers have the strongest voices but overall the cast is superb. Funny to hear Thomas Mann’s novel, ‘Death in Venice’ being described as a Who-Dunnit!

And for those who may wish to experiment a ‘Rula Lenska’ is a whisky, tonic and a dash of orange.

It’s a great show, funny, tragic and beautifully performed.

Acv rating: ***** (five out of five)

All pictures ©The Other Richard & Hampstead Theatre

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture