Wednesday, 11 July 2012


You're Only Young Twice is a bittersweet comedy by Ron Aldridge that first premiered in 2001. Since then it has been a firm favourite with amateur companies and has played world-wide. This most recent version is the third play in the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre's summer plays season.

Melvyn Hayes stars as Brooksie, a recent widower who decides that now is the time to recapture his youth. I knew nothing of the play before the curtain went up and as soon as he walks onto stage you know that Melvyn Hayes is the perfect man for the job. He switches from the young at heart, drunken teenage Brooksie to the mournful, reflective elder gentlemen with excellence. You get your money's worth on Hayes' performance alone.

Supporting cast members are also a joy to watch. Doctor Who's Katy Manning's Rose has much agitation towards Brooksie and her gradual change in attitude towards him is very sweet. John D. Collins is humorous as the pompous no-nonsense Tom. Heartbeat's David Lonsdale, Michelle Morris, Ingrid Evans and Daphne Sherman make up the rest of the cast. 

The set for this one, once again designed by Alan Millar-Bunford is the living room of a house. Realistic on the inside but the only problem with this one is that outside of the window is a creased white backcloth. Other plays in the season have had detailed landscapes hinting at realism and with the same designer you'd expect that continuity. It's a little distracting when characters are susposedly looking out onto the "street". 

I think that some of the jokes, humour and references are a little 40 years before my time, and the reflections of gone 60 year olds are easier to empathise with if you are of that age. The whole of the summer play season in Wolverhampton is geared towards the elder generation but it doesn't exclude younger audiences and there is something in these plays for all ages. The bread throwing scene in this particular play left the entire audience roaring with laughter for long after.

(With Melvyn Hayes, Katy Manning and David Lonsdale)

You're Only Young Twice runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre (it's first venue of the tour) until Saturday 14th July and then embarks on a UK tour ending 3rd November 2012 in Crewe. 

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