REVIEW: Assessment (Gilded Balloon @ The Rose Theatre) ★★★★

Assessment is a new play by Robert Dawson Scott produced by Shows on a Shoestring. The setting is “The Future: But Only Just” and that’s what makes this dark comedy so thought provoking and disturbing to watch along with the knowledge that all the statistics quoted come from UK Government sources.

It’s Alan McDonald’s 77th birthday. His daughter is preparing a birthday tea for him and his grandchildren when a knock at the door brings a visitor with an offer from a Government Agency. He wants to know if Alan would be interested in offsetting his future pension in exchange for a lump sum. In this future, the government has come up with a plausible plan to deal with the worsening pension crisis and remove their obligations to pensioners who have become a cost to the state. In this world, people have become ‘fiscal units’ and those who no longer make a contribution and have reached average life expectancy are being targeted for the Pension Exchange Scheme. Through Alan’s assessment for the scheme, we come to realise there is definitely a catch and the offer is too good to be true.

Stephen Clyde plays Alan, a retired cabinet maker, widowed and living with his daughter Karen (Karen Bartke) and her two sons. Taqi Nazeer plays Amrit, the representative from the agency sent to sign up Alan to the Pension Exchange Scheme. Selina Boyack is Ms Clarke, Amrit’s boss, who is keen that her team meet their targets to sign up pensioners to the scheme so they can all keep their jobs and maybe even get a bonus. The cast do a fine job of making this near-future seem convincing and present the power struggles and consciences at play very well.

While this is a dark comedy, this play addresses some very current issues as the government raises the pension age once again.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans