Review: Age is a Feeling

Haley McGee presents a tender and charismatic show about the seminal moments in your life

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Haley McGee, Age is a Feeling
Photo by Thea Courtney
Published 17 Aug 2022

Haley McGee sits atop a life-guard’s chair, staring into the future. Your future. But she’s not going to tell you the whole story. Surrounding her are envelopes with cryptic titles – oysters, inbox, fist – that are tied to tall plastic flowers, circling McGee like numbers on a clockface. She picks them like daisies, offering them up to the audience. What chapter do we want to hear next? The unchosen stories get pushed to the ground with a breezy shrug: “Anyway!” she says, smiling like a friend withholding grade A gossip.

Age is a Feeling speaks directly to you. It takes place on your 25th birthday, and it leads you through decades of life, through break-ups and aching bones and missed opportunities. The “you” in the play is vague enough that you can truly superimpose yourself, but also specific and alive enough for you to develop real tenderness towards this avatar, this pseudo-you. Directed by Adam Brace, McGee is a convincing, charismatic sage and makes this enormously text-heavy show feel like a breeze. But her magical omniscience also veers towards sentimentality: it implies that, in the end, everything smooths out in the wash of hindsight, and universal advice (stretch, floss, vegetables, etc) feels more akin to Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) than hard-won knowledge. Still, there’s scarcely a dry eye in the house once McGee reaches the show’s final resting place – and that’s with only half the story.