Rebecca Dickson, Age Scotland’s Community and Events Fundraiser, was invited to see Finding Joy at the Edinburgh Festival. Based on a true story, Finding Joy explores Joy’s relationship with her grandson as she experiences memory loss and confusion as a result of dementia.
The folks at Vamos Theatre got in touch to invite Age Scotland to see the Edinburgh Festival preview of Finding Joy on Thursday 4th August. So, I went along to Rainy Hall, Assembly (New College for Edinburgh residents) and honour the invitation.
Finding Joy explores the life of Joy (Rachael Savage), a woman who has a playful spirit, a love of dancing, and dementia. Joy lives with her daughter (Sarah Hawkins) and grandson, Danny (James Greaves). The play is actually based on the true story of Danny, a young man who uses unorthodox methods to care for his Grandmother.
Danny is shown to be a most wonderful source of compassion and love. He is a poster boy for positive caring. He enables Joy’s safety and respects her dignity whilst also making sure that she is not confused anymore than the dementia causes her to be. For example, instead of questioning why she has a cushion on her head while they watch a football game, Danny and his friend simply pop their cushions atop their heads too. Simple, yet lovely.
Finding Joy has a delightful way of exploring Dementia from Joy’s perspective. We see what she is seeing. So, when those around Joy see her throwing pieces of bread around the living room, the audience sees a younger Joy and her husband having a picnic and throwing bread to the ducks.
The play also, very subtly addresses what not to do when a person has dementia. When Joy is admitted to hospital following a fall, we are shown how the consultant only greets and speaks with Joy’s daughter, instead of Joy herself. And, it is assumed that Joy cannot sign hospital discharge papers as her daughter is asked for a signature instead.
I will say at this point that the play is performed entirely without spoken word. Each of the 12 characters, played by 4 actors, convey their story so successfully that words are not necessary. Each actor wears the mask of the character they are playing, and music is used to set the tone of a scene. I have to say the lack of speech made me enjoy the jumping shoulders of the cast, a sign of a proper belly laugh, even more. The fact that the production does not use speech makes it accessible to both hearing and deaf audiences. What’s not to love?!
Finding Joy has been touring the country, with the Edinburgh leg lasting until Sunday 14th August. If you decide to attend, I have three tips for you:
- Bring tissues. If not for you then for those around you. There will be tears.
- If you can, speak to the cast. I had a chance to speak with James (Danny) who is clearly so passionate about the production it will make you love it even more.
- Bring your pennies. Vamos theatre are kindly supporting Age Scotland by having a collection bucket at the end of each performance. We are incredibly grateful for anything you can give.
Thank you to Honor at Vamos Theatre for giving me the opportunity to see this lovely production. I wish them all the best for the future.