Imaginate 2014: Grandad and Me, North Edinburgh Arts, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
The Letter J
Andy McGeoch (animation), Judith Williams (music and creation), Jon Bishop (AKA The Grey Earl), (music and illustrations), Rachel Sanger (producer), Brian Hartley (photo) Helen Gallogly (costume and props) Fergus Dunnet and Charmaine Gilbert (props)
Marta Masiero, Judith Williams, Jon Bishop
Running time

A cosy homely set with flying ducks on the wall, a throw of knitted squares, a Bakelite wireless, an old gramophone and a stack of old suitcases (what is it about old suitcases?) is the backdrop for this touching tale of childhood loss.

The central character is an unnamed wee girl, played by Marta Masiero, who is dealing with the death of her belovèd Grandad. Through the medium of music and movement that is a million miles from the primary school manoeuvres of yester year, Marta uses puppetry and physicality to act out her grief and reconciliation as she goes on adventures over sea and space inspired by her Grandad’s memory. In spite of her big sensible sandals, she moves with skill and some abandon. It is like a live silent movie, with narration and on- stage sounds provided by the multi- talented Judith Williams. Grandad’s voice and original music is provided by Jon Bishop on guitar, whose illustrations are inspiration for the beautifully fun filled, larger than life animations that appear on screen.

The glamorous Ms Williams, who is co-founder of The Letter J with Jon Bishop (AKA The Grey Earl),is wonderfully capable of a range of instruments, voices and accents. Her opening clear- as- a- bell slow rendition of the old song My Grandfather’s Clock holds all the poignancy of unaccompanied kirk singing and with the power to induce ready tears. Weather and the changing of seasons play a prominent role in this delightful show and her delivery of a very surreal shipping forecast is as quality a piece of writing as is their updated version of Going Home. The text with the universal message of how to come to terms with the loss of a loved one is suitably smattered with well delivered Scots words from this Scottish based company.

In spite of the subject matter of how children deal with loss, the show is filled with cheeky exuberance and surprises that evoke gasps and laughter throughout. With the rather lovely philosophy of ‘sleep tight – live bright’, this entrancing tale based on the bond between generations is a tremendous finale to Imaginate’s 25th year.

Imaginate run ended but tour continues
Age recommend 5 + years