City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Finding Joy, Rainy Hall, Assembly Hall, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 08 August 2016

Show details
Assembly Hall
Vamos Theatre
Running time: 
Rachael Savage (writer and director), Janie Armour (composer) Carl Davies (set and costume designer)
Richard J. Fletcher (Billy, Walter, nurse, patient), James Greaves (Danny, consultant, Joy's mother), Sarah Hawkins (Joy's daughter, Joy at 25, Joy at 8), Rachael Savage (Old Joy, Betty)

The latest show from Worcester based mask theatre company Vamos, Finding Joy, is based on the true life story of an 18-year-old boy, Danny, who undertook caring for his grandmother using his own unconventional methods as she experienced middle and late stage dementia.

Against an insipid backdrop of washed out roses, that serves as a series of shaky entrances reminiscent of Acorn Antiques, the silent drama is played out. What turns out to be just four performers make inventive use of limited props as they transform a wooden box to suit each scene. Between them these four realise twelve different characters including Danny and his hoodie-wearing, pant-showing pal Billy, hair-flicking nurses and an affected consultant that they bring to comic life with recognisable gestures, but sadly with no real clowning.

Running alongside Joy’s states of bewilderment are manifestations of her past memories when, clutching her favourite handbag all the while, she sees her mother; her husband; herself as a child and young woman during wartime and in the ‘50s. And it’s music from that time that plays as the audience assembles, but more gentle harmonium sounds that accompany the show itself. The show has a light comic tone but lacks bite and edge, and these elements combine to make it feel more like a smart kid’s show than an adult one.

While the audience at today’s performance clapped and stood in appreciation, the 75 minutes proved too long for some. Losing 15 minutes at a Fringe show would not detract from the piece’s core important message. Through their own brand of theatre, Vamos taken a refreshing look at an alternative way of dealing with a subject that touches most of us either directly or indirectly but in skimming over the darker and truly distressing aspects of dementia Finding Joy loses depth.

A collection for Age Scotland takes place after the show.

August 4th-14th at 16:30 age recommend 12+