Tramway, Glasgow

Neil Cooper

THE lights are down on the entire auditorium from the start of Vanishing Point's magical-realist meditation on how age withers us.

With only a triangle of light cast between two grey doorframes, it could be a wake. The vague figures handing out what at first appears to be a production line of newborns suggest something else again culled from the darkest of science-fiction graphic novels.

When a young man on the way to the hospital where his wife has just given birth bumps into an old man in the park, a seemingly chance meeting lurches into a troubling dreamscape that sees the young man become a mere memory of the elder. As a possible escapee from an old people's home, he is by turns petted and patronised by staff too wrapped up in their own lives to do anything other than care by rote.

Devised by director Matthew Lenton with dramaturg Pamela Carter and a cast of eight, Tomorrow is as far away from the spate of plays about ageing that have sprung up over the past few years as you can imagine.

Created in coproduction with Brighton Festival, Tramway and international partners in Russia and Brazil, the play depicts its elderly subjects by forcing them into rubber masks that symbolise the physical and psychological imprisonment of vibrant inner lives incapable of reaching out any more beyond an inarticulate return to an infant state. This is most evident when a gaggle of children burst across the stage in a beautifully stark and unsentimental thumbnail abstraction of human behaviour turned inside out that's about loss of the self as much as those departed.