Finding Joy @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury
It’s very rare to see a production
that touches your heart making you laugh and cry at the same time, but  that’s exactly what Finding Joy does in this extraordinary play.  It’s based on a real-life story of how one
young man connected with his grandmother who suffered from dementia and cared
for her for two years.

The show was developed in 2010 as a
co-production between Vamos Theatre and The Courtyard Theatre, Hereford about
people living with dementia. Finding Joy
has performed to audiences across the UK and Europe and has been praised for
its consummate full mask skills, engaging storytelling, physical dexterity and
emotional insight. 

The actors introduce themselves before
putting on their masks and taking on a variety of characters.  Russell Dean has done an incredible job of
creating masks that are somehow able to speak volumes and give an insight into
the individual’s personality.  Without words
or facial expressions, the actors communicate the story and you quickly become
involved in Joy’s struggles.

Bidi Iredale plays 83 year old Joy, who is suffering from dementia and
vividly recalls moments from her childhood, meeting her husband and starting
their new life together, but struggles with the present day.  James Greaves plays the teenage grandson Danny, who builds an incredible
relationship with Joy, delighting in
her world, dancing with her, making her laugh and accepting who she is from
moment to moment.  The genuine love, care
and compassion shown by Danny is very
moving as you see the deep connection the two share. Louise Mellor and Sarah
Nelson complete the cast, taking on a variety of roles, including Joy’s daughter and Joy at 8 and 25, nurses  and
her husband Walter.

This production was part of The
Waterside’s 8th birthday celebrations, championed by Aylesbury Town
Council and Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group to make theatre
accessible for all.  The production of Finding Joy is
hoped to increase personal awareness and understanding of the types of issues those
living with dementia face and how each and every individual in the community
can help; because small changes can make a big difference.

The dreadful disease of dementia will
touch everyone’s lives at some point, even if not directly within your own
family.  This play helps to understand
the person behind the illness, it’s never sentimental , it’s very real,
insightful, funny and touching and is one of the most beautiful theatrical
experiences you’ll ever see.

The current tour of Finding Joy ends on 29th
November, before touring Europe.  For
more information about the company and other shows, go to

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye