Never before have I been offered a biscuit as I entered a theatre. The choice of a custard cream or a bourbon sets the tone for this joyfully eccentric interactive experience that is The Lamppost Petition. It’s strangely comforting to be sitting in a living room decorated with an eclectic mix of thrifted, borrowed and haggled for treasures with steaming cups of tea being handed out throughout the performance.
The creator, writer and performer of this piece, 23-year old Zoe Murtagh, reflects in a truly entertaining way on the whole issue of ageing. She’s done her research – dug deep into her family history and had the joy of interacting with some wonderful and interesting older people. She’s brought together music that makes you tingle, uninhibited dancing, snippets of film and some scientific insights into an hour of non-stop enjoyment.
So what does it mean to grow older?
Yes, there are the expected behaviours and attitudes that accompany ageing. Then there are the exceptional ones. Zoe’s Italian grandma Maria who petitioned for a lamppost at the end of the street. The two ladies in their khaki camping chairs at the anti-austerity protest rally in Manchester with their hand-stitched blanket.
Zoe is determined to be one of those. When she’s old, people will not say ‘Ahh…’ but ‘Wow!’. And she needs to start now so that when she’s old, they will not be shocked when she verges on the outrageous. She muses on teabags and politics and how fragmented and messy life is as she whirls around the stage in joyful abandon with a large gold tasselled lampshade on her head.
There’s a sense of celebration as all these individual stories are woven together into a rich tapestry of experience and life and love and politics and passion and shoes. A picture of lives well-lived, lives that will be remembered for years and years to come. We’re each handed a glass of Guinness and invited to join Zoe in a toast – a toast to all that is life-giving and fun.
It’s good to be alive!