After a show in London, LGBT show Swansong will hit the Malborough Theatre in Brighton. Jamie Walker spoke to the show’s writer Nathan Evans and star Lavinia Co-op about it.

Hi Nathan, tell us about Swansong and its plot.

Nathan: The show is about two gentleman who fall in love in a care home. The story is about a gentleman called Joan who arrives in a care home. Joan is a gay and queer older gentleman who is very out there, and refuses to go back in the closet when entering the home. He receives some very negative reactions from the home, including his neighbour Jim.

It turns out Jim is also gay but has gone back into the closet when entering the home because he didn’t feel comfortable revealing his sexuality to other residents and staff. Joan brings him out of himself and they strike up a relationship and fall in love.

Lavinia, how did you get involved in the show?

Lavinia: I’ve known Nathan for many years. It’s a very stretching role for me, I’m 67 but I’m playing a 77 year old. It’s interesting because it’s about stuff that we don’t usually think about, especially in regards to older gays.

We have these poignant bits and one line means more than what you would think, it’s good to expose these ideas.

Do you think that older LGBT members are underrepresented in media?

Lavinia: Older people don’t go to bars and don’t have that youthful greatness. There’s also a little bit of denial from the youth and the middle-aged about what’s going to happen later in life.

Older people need to work together, some can’t because they’re not capable. It’s a bit of both, it’s some of those who waved the flag before, for the generations that came after, but some need to look at what’s happening now. It’s not as if we have care homes in the country that regularly talk about LGBT issues.

If there’s one in ten of us across the country then how many of the care workers know about gay issues or homophobia or going back in the closet. When you’re older you’re much more vulnerable, you’re at the end of your tether in many ways, so you keep your mouth shut, like probably a lot of others.

So what was the process of coming up with this show?

Nathan: The idea originated a few years ago when I heard a radio documentary about LGBT elders going into care homes and feeling like they had to go back in the closet because they weren’t comfortable with how they would be received by other residents.

You have to remember that although society has moved on a huge amount in the last ten years, we’re dealing with a generation of older people whose attitudes have often not moved with the times. So it’s not a particularly comfortable context for them to go into and come out. I heard those stories and wanted to write about a character who went into that situation and refused to be anything other than what they are.

I wanted to see how it would effect other residents, and I was also interested in Jim’s story to hide their previous life and the journey he goes on in coming out when he meets Joan.

Lavinia: There’s also a gay carer, which adds another element of him having to be official but also toeing the line of what the rules are.

How excited are you to be bringing this show to Brighton?

Nathan: I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s been a while in making this show. Bringing the show to the Marlborough is going to be great it’s a wonderful venue and I love Brighton.

Lavinia: Oh, doing the show in Brighton will be great. I did a solo show there before so I know the space and attracting the Brighton crowd too is brilliant.

So why is this the show to come and see?

Nathan: I think it’s a show that’s about issues that are important to the community, especially the LGBT community. It’s very funny and very moving and it’s a great night in the theatre.

Lavinia: It’s quite diverse, the music is very emotional and there are little film clips. The acting has points of humour, seeing an older person being silly or highly intelligent, it brings a tear to the eye.

It’s quite surprising when you put something from paper to the stage and see more to it than initially meets the eye.