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Theatre Review: Curious Shoes ****

Joy Watters reviews a 'little gem of a show' that 'is perfectly tailored to its audience'.

This little gem of a show for people living with dementia, their loved ones and carers gently engages the audience with a blend of speech, music, song and dance. Audience members are welcomed individually on arrival and shown to little tables, each hosted by one of the four cast members so everyone feels like a special guest.

It is a companionable set up as we are taken on a whimsical journey, interacting with each other and the actors.

Director Magdalena Schamberger, through her work with those who have dementia, had noticed that people in the latter stages often sit looking down at the floor. Thus the first thing they see is someone’s shoes, hence the title of the piece.

The importance of shoes in various films from Funny Face to The Red Shoes is taken up as the four performers are loosely based on Fred Astaire, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin and Vicky Page. There are few words in the telling of their stories but beautifully performed dance and live music.

The cast (Christina Liddell, Tim Licata, Colin Moncrieff and Nicolette Macleod) charms never patronises, drawing the audience closer by asking for their help and their views. Their smiles create an atmosphere of goodwill which spreads throughout, lifting the spirits of the audience.

It is perfectly tailored to its audience, all of its audience, relieving the sense of isolation that blights the lives of so many.

The sense of togetherness culminates as we all take to the floor for some joyful dancing to round off the performance.

Curious Shoes was reviewed at Dundee Rep and continues its tour to Eden Court, Inverness (18 June), Byre Theatre, St Andrews (22 June) Taigh Chearsabhagh, Lochmaddy, North Uist (26 June) and Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling (6 July).

Tags: theatre

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