Preview: Nathan Evan’s SwanSong starring Lavinia Co-op

Lavinia Co-op in SwanSong c. Justin David
Lavinia Co-op in SwanSong c. Justin David

SwanSong written by Nathan Evans will play Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London on 17 October 2018 and Marlborough Theatre, Brighton on 27 October 2018.

A gentleman called Joan lands in a subdued, suburban care home like a colourful, combustible cocktail in a new play written and directed by Nathan Evans, starring the leg-endary Lavinia Co-op. This bittersweet comedy with an opulent operatic soundtrack is staged site-specifically at the RVT as part of And What? Queer Arts Festival then travels to the Marlboroough in Brighton.

A veteran of Gay Lib and no stranger to conflict, Joan dons battle dress with relish, seeking an ally in the young, gay but disappointingly conventional care assistant Craig for his attempt to overturn the heteronormativity of the care system. Then, in this most unlikely of settings, Joan is offered love by a gentleman called Jim…

Nathan says, ‘This a story that’s not been told: we’ve seen stories aplenty of young gay love and stories, recently, of mature straight love, but gay love in the care home…? It’s about bloody time. It’s also a story that’s very now—reflecting changes in marriage legislation and our ageing population—among them those who began the fight for rights five decades back and are now facing battles with infirmity and isolation.’

Nathan Evans produced the long-running weekly cabaret Vauxhallville at RVT, a series of shows with David Hoyle and three pantomimes; the venue is infused with gay history and could, indeed, have been attended by Joan – which can only lend the production poignancy. The performance at the RVT will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by journalist Ben Walters, including ambassadors from Opening Doors for LGBT over-fifties and Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre about the increasingly pressing issue of elderly LGBT care.

90% of LGBT people do not have children to look after them as they’re aging. They are therefore especially dependent on the care system and there is likely at least one LGBT person in every care home in the country, but you might not know it because most go back in the closet, worried about how they will be treated both by straight peers—whose prejudices may well not have shifted with the times—and staff—whose faith or cultures may also not approve.

Nathan was inspired to write SwanSong to raise awareness of these problems.


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