It is the duty of the elderly to dwindle into irrelevance. To dwindle, as it were, with dignity. The yet-to-be-elderly are in firm denial about this stage of life, so this is the euphemism they can bear – that after a certain point, people simply disappear. Even those still living are transparent as far as society as concerned; like ghosts pre-empting themselves. Perhaps a select wrinkled cohort has a short part to play as cartoonish, grandchild-coddling grandparents, knitting booties and dispensing buttery smiles from an armchair. But their time in the limelight is up, the grand story arc of their lives complete, and the denouement is not worth bearing witness. What could it possibly contain, except shameful, unpleasant things like memory loss and disease and the horror of loneliness?

Grand Horizons, Sydney Theatre Company. Photograph © Prudence Upton

What effrontery, then, for Nancy (Linda Cropper) to declare after 50 years of marriage that she wants to divorce Bill (John Bell). Thisdrama, now? Hers is the first line spoken in Bess Wohl’s Tony-nominated 2019 play, and how it irrupts, and how the...