Finding Joy

Reviewer's Rating

Marcel Marceau defined mime as “the art of expressing feelings by attitudes and not a means of expressing words through gestures”, and the cast of Finding Joy applies that marvellously to its fullest extent. The spectator enjoys a comic and touching full mask show that delivers a study into family relationships, transgenerational gaps  and dementia without the utterance of a single word!

Joy is an elegant, funny and tender old lady who loves to dance, but is also presenting signs of dementia. She loathes parting from her worn clutch hand bag, still wears  her mother’s wrist watch and likes to pet and play with her imaginary dog. Her grandson Danny is a typical youth, bright, funny, and rebellious, and attached to his smartphone and occasionally experimenting with light drugs. Danny’s mother, her daughter, is hard-working, constantly harangued, and trying to cope with work and the two “children”.

When she is lucid Joy spends her day with Danny and sometimes his gormless friends. Despite the age gap and the occasional misunderstandings that causes, they get along famously! They even take group photos with the smartphone “gangsta” style with their hoodies on – Joy’s is pink and it’s her raincoat, but it’ll have to do. When she gets confused, everyday stimuli trigger flashbacks and previous behaviour and the audience travels back with her through all the landmarks of her life. At those times Danny is always attentively by her side, and always managing with great tenderness, ingenuity and humour to get her through every episode.

Vamos’ distinctive masks may give the characters a slightly unnatural neck-less appearance, but exactly because their expression is unchanged they successfully manage to divert the focus of the spectators from the faces to the bodies of the actors. The actors, in turn, manage to convey with the movements of their bodies an exceptional palette of emotions and attitudes, without ever having to resort to exaggeration. The set’s slightly worn cupboards are ingeniously transformed into beds, doors, and even a settee, putting IKEA to shame.

The cast’s well-rounded technique seamlessly combined with the beautiful music and the visual effects results in an emotionally nuanced performance that keeps the audience transfixed. Life-affirming, funny, deeply touching and highly, highly recommended!

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