Theatre review: You Only Live Forever, Assembly George Square Studios

Roxy Dunn and Alys Metcalf are a duo with natural comic abilities. Picture: Contributed
Roxy Dunn and Alys Metcalf are a duo with natural comic abilities. Picture: Contributed
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THEATRE

You Only Live Forever, Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17) ****

Olga (Dunn) and Imi (Metcalf) meet in Las Vegas and fall in love, but not before Imi meets an inventor in a casino bar and drinks what he laughingly calls the elixir of life. Back in London, they settle down and have a child. The years pass and Olga ages, but Imi remains remarkably unchanged. Soon, they are going to increasingly complex lengths to conceal the yawning age-gap.

There is lot to explore here: the emotional impact of outliving first your partner, then your children; the eventually wearying effect of eternal youth. The duo doesn’t shirk these things, but always has a gag or two at hand to pull the show back if it’s in danger of tipping over into schmaltz.And they have fun imagining the future: people have finger phones and eat in zero-gravity restaurants, cars are museum pieces and polar bears extinct.

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The decision to come out of character and intersperse the play with scenes in which they argue about their writing process is less successful; it helps develop the double-act dynamic, but slows the action down. Putting greater trust in their story might lead to these scenes being reduced.

The fact is, there is plenty to trust. A complex and far-reaching story is adeptly managed, with lifetimes explored through carefully chosen moments, emotional journeys undertaken and satisfying conclusions reached. Add to this the pair’s natural comic abilities and you have a show full of things to like.

• Until 27 August, 1:35pm