The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean, Traverse, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Shona Reppe Puppets
Gill Robertson (director), Danny Crass (composer) Jonathan Charles (film maker), Tamlin Wiltshire (technical manager) Catherine Wheels Theatre Company (producer), Suzie Normand and Robbie Fraser (stage managers)
Shona Reppe
Running time

The stage set is suitably neat and compact for the extremely neat and compact, clever wee show that is The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean, from award winning puppeteer, Shona Reppe, whose company, established in 1996, has enjoyed worldwide success.

Appearing in her designer lab coat, Reppe introduces herself as Patricia Baker, doctor of scrapology and founder of S.C.R.A.P.S. (Society for the Care Repair and Analysis and Probing of Scraps). We the audience are the scrapettes, a lovely inclusive term reminiscent of local crooner Craig McMurdo and That Swing Thang whose female fans were referred to as swoonettes!

Dr Baker shows us the history of scrapology,  then we enter the lab where several small specimens are suspended awaiting examination.   She dusts off the old scrapbook and starts her meticulous detective work that uses all her senses to find out about the book’s owner and so we are drawn in to the tiny world of Josephine Bean and her love, Artimus J. Mood. 

The probings reveal that Artimus J. Mood was a lonely watchmaker who after a week peering  at the small workings of watches, takes Sunday trips to the beach to collect seaweed. On one of these trips, he finds a sea bean or sea heart (Entada gigas) that contains the tiniest of tiny ladies who was “as small as a raisin” and who’d sailed all the way from the Caribbean. She is Josephine Bean.

Artimus is then seen apparently alone at the theatre, dining, taking train trips with TWO tickets and looking very happy. Town gossips think he has gone mad but Artimus is in love with Josephine and cares not a jot.

Shona Reppe’s slightly mad character is thoroughly engaging and the show, while pitched at age 6 and over, has enough undertones for adults and entertainment for children so that it is thoroughly enjoyable for all.

There is a gorgeous red motif that runs throughout from her polo neck, the lamp, the floor, her coat at the end, her lipstick,  to the skelf in her finger that turned out to be Josephine’s red brolly. There are fantastically synchronised sounds, like her stethoscoped listening to the various ticks of clock hands in this charming and intriguing story.  It has images imaginatively appearing on the screen in parallel to the story in the form of a slide show or film, like the train tickets that turn into a train’s moving carriages.  

Scottish references abound in place names but the story is a universal one about sadness, loneliness and love that had gentle echoes of the haunting tale by Carson McCullers, The Ballad of Sad Café that tells the love story between a giantess and a dwarf.  The microscopic world of this miniature Caribbean lady and her horologist man  is magically brought to life with delicate skill by the highly talented and creative Ms Reppe.

Show times: 26 November, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Tour ended