Curious Shoes

The Studio, Potterow, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

four stars

We’re sporting name tags. First names only, because nobody who’s wearing, or watching, Curious Shoes is likely to stand on ceremony. Affable re-assurance and friendly involvement is a key factor in what Edinburgh-based theatre-maker Magdalena Schamberger wants audiences to experience when Bette, Charlie, Fred and Vicky arrive with an hour or so of larking about. There will be bits of daft - but hugely skilful - clowning, some entrancing music and hands-on participation. It’s the stuff of kindly theatre for the very young. Here. it’s aimed at those who are living with dementia and those who are caring for them - and, going by the chirpy responses from the audience on Saturday afternoon, it’s an approach that clearly gives a great deal of pleasure... alongside sudden obvious moments of re-connection with memories of the past.

The premise of Curious Shoes is simple: our foursome are setting off on their travels. Once they’ve introduced themselves to each and every one of us, the suitcases are humphed on-stage by Bette (Christina Liddell, in shades of tan, including her boots). She’s over-burdened - cue some slapstick clutziness, before everyone claims their own bit of baggage and produces a personal travelling kit to show’n’share with members of the audience. Charlie (Tim Licata, a twinkly scamp in blue) has a hoard of objects for our group to pore over - touchy-feely encounters with a scarf, some ladies evening gloves, even ‘her’ sweetly floral perfume. Let’s Go! shouts Charlie, and Fred (Colin Moncrieff in zingy green) and Vicky (musician/composer Nicolette Macleod in plummy damson) join him and Bette on a jolly travelogue in and out of the set with its framework of white ‘sails’. There’s music throughout, jolly footwork, a wisp of holiday romance, but above all there’s a wonderful reaching out to an audience for whom the immediate past is a foreign country they rarely visit because of memory loss.