WHAT if the government were to offer you £30 grand? You could go on that holiday you’ve fantasised about years, smarten up the house, maybe even help pay the kids’s way through college.

“What’s the catch?” retiree Alan asks. A former cabinet-maker who now soothes the pain of arthritis with days in the local pub, he’s immediately suspicious when a representative of Wellgov, an arms-length organisation given the task of saving the DWP money, makes the offer.

Written by former Times theatre critic Robert Dawson Scott, Assessment addresses an issue rarely out of the news – the growing “pensions time bomb”. As the nervous, slick-suited Wellgov rep (Taqi Nazeerm) notes, the UK pensions budget is currently £50 billion a year – more than the NHS or social security, and more than the cost of education and defence put together.

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Will Alan, played by awarding-winning actor Stephen Clarke, bite?

Though there are excellent performances here — Scots Squad star Karen Bartke is particularly convincing as Alan’s long-suffering, poverty-stricken daughter — Assessment’s split-staging feels unnecessary and distracting. Still, this is a strong piece, and an essential one, and the black humour is right on the button. With rising pension ages, stalling life expectancy and continued austerity creating a dog’s dinner of very uncomfortable problems, Assessment reminds us we must tackle them, and soon – before it’s us not recognising the elderly person in the mirror.

Until Aug 28 (not 15), Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, (V76), 2.30pm (1hr), £10, £9 concs. Tel: 0131 226 0000 edfringe.com