Characters Eric and Kylie perform together in nursing homes and retirement centres as The Doodlebugs, providing residents with a gentle, nostalgic series of ‘40s songs. I believe the start of the show is meant to establish that the audience are playing the part of the elderly residents. The songs are directed at us, but I wanted that relationship to be more firmly established, earlier on so that I felt more comfortable interacting with the performers.
“Paradise Lodge is charming and heartfelt”
This production has partnered with Alzheimer’s Scotland and is performed in solidarity with those who live and care for people with dementia. Both actors play an elderly resident of Paradise Lodge alongside their Doodlebug personality. The characterisation is detailed and moving; an accurate and touching representation of an elderly man and woman suffering from dementia and facing the move into sheltered accommodation.
Although I think that this is a subject that deserves more theatrical attention, I feel that perhaps more should be done to widen the target audience. As I arrived I was told that I was too young to be watching this show. The older members of the audience enjoyed the nostalgic songs as much as the addressed residents of Paradise Lodge would have done. But should it only be the older generations that benefit from a show that explores the subject of caring for those with dementia?
I learnt from Vamos Theatre’s incredible production of Finding Joy that, quite the contrary, young people are frequently affected by the repercussions and intensely emotional experience of caring for a grandparent with dementia or watching a parent go through losing their mother or father. After that production, many of the younger members of the audience were so touched that they were moved to tears. Even if younger audience members have no close experience of dementia, it is very likely that it will affect somebody close to them in their future.
Both performers are infinitely watchable, the concept works and the simple setting – a hat stand holding the hats of the whole cast of characters – suits the production perfectly. Paradise Lodge is charming and heartfelt.
Paradise Lodge runs at Underbelly, Bristo Square – The Dairy Room at 1:15pm until 26th August. Click here to find out more about the work of Alzheimer’s Scotland.