The Commedia of Errors Theatre Company have brought a ray of sunshine and a sprinkling of entertainment into care homes this week with their Plays Aloud series. As Benjamin Gould company manager describes it “ it’s a cultural selection box of delights coming straight in to your lounge” and he is right it is delightful.
Local theatre maker Ben is joined by Clare McMahon, Geoff Hatt and Rosie McClelland together they combine to make a talented band of musicians, actors and orators. Plays Aloud is a specialist theatre project for older people, with a particular focus on dementia and has been running since 2017. In the variety-show style the four performers bring music, comedy, poetry and theatre into the living room of their audience and since Covid-19 they have been doing this via a live YouTube link which I happily joined yesterday to get a feel of the programme.
The live broadcast starts with a getting to know you session, for privacy I could not view participants but could see from the holding pages that the performers where discussing their top three fun facts. Clare loves hot chocolate, Rosie has had enough with homeschooling, Geoff plays the Ukulele but is learning the banjo and Ben doesn’t count himself as being bossy even though he’s in charge. Throughout the programme the company refer back to the participants through a live feed, they can see if there audience is dancing and/or singing a long, a lovely touch and makes the whole experience much more personable.
As for the programme, we have lots of beautiful singalongs with Geoff and Rosie performing everything from Dusty Springfield to Elvis and even a bit of fun down on the farm, all are peppered with shout outs to the residents. Rosie’s rendition of Danny Boy gave me goosebumps, her Petula Clarke made me want to dance and Geoffs rendition of the Morecambe and Wise classic Bring me Sunshine complete with nifty dance moves made me smile. We also join Clare and Ben in the poetry corner with ma performance of Clare’s grandmothers favourite Yeats poem, a personal favourite of my own and the Wordsworth 1804 classic I wondered Lonely as a Cloud, two beautiful poems, well known to all and hopefully we’ll known to the audience so they can join in. Comedy, fun and a little bit of theatre are brought into the mix with a performances of the Owl and the a pussycat and Roald Dahl’s Red Riding Hood and the Wolf which was a hoot (pardon the pun).
The time passed so quickly, it was a joyful, bright and a loving performance. I felt like I had regressed to watching the BBC Children’s Broom closet or sitting in my grandmothers kitchen listening to her favourite tunes. As I described it initially yesterday it was a beautiful rainbow on a grey day a rainbow made up of engagement, comfort and cheer. It was a pleasure to behold and I haven’t even mentioned the special guest. Danielle O’Daniel appears magically on the screen to sing live with his band. What a major coup by the company to have the prestigious Irish singer on board and I’m sure it brought a smile to all the residence. Overall magnificent and marvellous nostalgic production which is fun for all the family not just our seniors.
Emer D xx
Want to join in the fun? Commedia of Errors are performing a one off Plays at Home public show this Saturday 22nd August at 3pm. Find out more and join in here: commediaoferrors.co.uk.