Roundelay by Sonja Linden

Photo: Actors Elan James and Anne Firbank in Roundelay by Sonja Linden © ViSiBLE and John Haynes

"The sexuality of elderly people is one of our society’s last taboos."

The Warmth of Your Heart Prevents Your Body From Rusting by Marie de Hennezel, French psychotherapist and author

Note from the author

I wrote Roundelay with a view to challenging pre-conceptions of older people through a piece of theatre that I hope is both surprising and entertaining and that provokes audiences to recognise that the most universal of human experiences, love, sex and the need for intimacy are not the special preserve of the young but belong to us all, at any stage of life.  The playwas inspired by the structure – and scandal – of the late 19thcentury play La Ronde by Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler, initially banned for its sexual content. Fast forward a hundred or so years to our own sexually explicit society and La Rondeno longer has the power to shock.  All the taboos around sex would appear to have been broken – bar one, that of sex between those whose bodies are no longer young. This was a taboo I was hoping to break in Roundelay, whichpresents a series of climactic encounters between a constantly changing series of couples, whose only common denominator is the challenge of love and sex  in later life.


Libby Purves Theatre Cat

The theme of continuing desire and yearning for love develops a real earnest beauty’

★★★★ Theatre Full Stop 

‘….an empowering show thatgives a voice to a subject rarely considered – if you’re even the tiniest bit open minded, you’ll find this a breath of fresh air, and a heart-warming experience’

★★★★ Pocket Size Theatre  

‘This imaginative and frisky play was a real delight … ode to the ups and downs of love and sex, but also a more concrete celebration of diversity and inclusion in the world of the performing arts.’

★★★★ The Upcoming

‘Playwright Sonja Linden’s idea to twin a set of love stories that might not have been out of place in Play for Todaywith a sexy circus backdrop and a desire to explore what relationships mean after youth is a mad type of genius. For 90 minutes of performance time, Roundelay packs in an awful lot and leaves little wanting.’

★★★★ Jack The Lad 

‘Engaging, insightful and scandalous. The stories that unfold have the power to move audiences of all ages, resonating with either their past, present or future. It’s 90 minutes well spent at the theatre.’      

Gay Star News

‘There is a definite warmth, humanity, and generosity of spirit running through this work that is easy to identify with, and easy to connect with. In Roundelay, Linden and her Visible company have created a watchable and welcome interpretation of a theatre classic.’

Remote Goat

‘The clever, witty and moving script by Sonja Linden is vivaciously brought to life by director Anna Lewich and choreographer Diane Alison-Mitchell.’

British Theatre Guide

‘As one character says in this play, “old bodies and old faces have a beauty that requires a different kind of seeing.” Perhaps Roundelaywill help open eyes to it.’

 A Younger Theatre

Roundelay probes the issues that older people face, most critically in terms of sexuality and personal relationship in a visually appealing and conceptually arresting way –a strong production.

Artistic team (Southwark Playhouse, 2017)

Director: Anna Ledwich
Movement Director: Diane Alison-Mitchell
Associate Director: Celine Lowenthal
Set and Costume Design: Moi Tran
Light Design: Matthew Haskins
Music and Sound Design: Max Pappenheim
Cast: Roger Alborough, Doreene Blackstock, Holly de Jong, Ann Firbank, Elan James, John Moraitis, Vincenzo Nicoli, Clare Perkins and Anna Simpson
Musician: RU Hamilton
Producer: Frederique Nahmani
Education and Outreach: Claire French
Production Manager: Alex Johnston
Stage Manager: Benedict Jones
Deputy Stage Manager: Naomi Hill


Roundelay Gala Night, hosted by director Annabel Arden (co-founder of Complicite) featured on ‘The Stage, In Pictures’:

Click on image to go to The Stage

Filmed scenes from Roundelay

Post-show artist talks and provocations

>> Take me to >> Storytelling from Real Life

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