JOYCE MCMILLAN on THINGUMMY BOB at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, for The Scotsman, 2.11.15
3 stars ***
THE STORY of Lung Ha’s Theatre Company is a completely inspiring one , covering 30 years of success in creating beautiful, memorable theatre performed and co-created by adults with lerning difficulties; so it’s altogether fitting that as part of this year’s Luminate Festival of Creative Ageing, the company has turned its attention to the experience of dementia, which also sees adults excluded from society, and their humanity sometimes denied.
In Linda McLean’s Thingummy Bob – gorgeously directed by Maria Oller, with music by Philip Pinsky – the part of Bob, an ageing dementia sufferer living in a care home, is played by Lung Ha’s star John Edgar; and around him circle a fine cast of supporting actors, including Emma McCaffrey asGemma, the old friend’s daughter who is his only visitor, and a terrific Karen Sutherland as both his niece in faraway Australia, and the thinking hospital security camera that monitors his every move.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Thingummy Bob is a show that finally struggles to find an ending. Bob is still alive, and still experiencing vivid glimpses of his lost past, particularly when an old neighbour hands him a pile of his old 1960’s LP’s. Yet like his mind, his story tends to run in circles; and the final attempt to give the show an upbeat karaoke conclusion – as Bob, back in the home, joins the rest of the cast in a chorus of Cliff Richard’s The Young Ones – sits uneasily on a story with such a sombre backbeat, albeit one lovingly and impressively explored by an acting company that seems to go from strength to strength.
Eden Court, Inverness, 3 November, and Platform, Glasgow, 5-6 November.