‘Angel’ the new show by Theatre Hullabaloo performed at the Square Chapel Centre, Halifax

I was invited  to the Square Chapel Centre Halifax and given the tickets to see ‘Angel’

This was presented by Theatre Hullabaloo who produced this in partnership with Age UK to help young people understand more about ageing, particularly about the effects of dementia on older people and their families.  Perhaps less thoughtful children would not have found it entertaining, although the children in the audience listened quietly, so perhaps I have lost touch with what a 10 year old child would enjoy.

On entering the theatre I really had no idea what to expect so was quite surprised to see no raised stage.  The action all took place on a flat area  in front of the graduated rows of seats, with a revolving centre  showing the inside of the old lady’s house and then after revolving, the outside of the house and this worked very well.

The play began with Bill the young girl sitting on the floor in front of the rows of seats. My only negative comment about the play was about this.

Bill  was doing something out of sight to all but the front row. She was actually folding paper into a ‘fortune teller’ which we saw when she stood up. This would have been better staged further back so her hands were in sight of most of the audience. We couldn’t see, even though everyone moved forward, necks straining.

Making this fortune teller brought back memories to me. Did you made them once upon a time too?

There were some funny moments and some children on the row in front of me were highly amused and laughed outloud by some of the things happening but maybe it was because they were quite young and had not got a grip on what was really occurring before us.

I enjoyed this play very much It was nicely acted and the characters were believable.

Mainly I found it very poignant and I was quite moved by it and I had tears in my eys at the end of the performance.

This was what the Square Chapel Centre website said about the production.

Theatre Hullabaloo performs the moving story of an unexpected friendship between a young girl and an older lady in a play ideal for ages 10+ and adults. Angel by Kevin Dyer is performed at Square Chapel Centre for the Arts on Sunday 26 February for two showings at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Angel is the story of young girl Bill and elderly lady Miriam. Miriam keeps her watch in the fridge, doesn’t lock the front door and has a make-believe dog called Satan to scare the horrible woman from Social Services away. Bill is a lonely 12 year old who sees Miriam leave her shopping bag on a bench and follows her home to return it. Bill soon realises that Miriam is unlike any other grown-up; she loves playing games and is rude about people she doesn’t like. One thing that Miriam does remember is the race on the hill that was never run when she was 12. Bill decides to help her and concocts a plan to finish the race that never was. Bill loves the playful world that Miriam lives in but realises that Miriam’s confused memory means that they can’t continue to be friends because, however much fun they have together today, Miriam will not recognise her tomorrow.

Theatre Hullabaloo’s Creative Producer, Miranda Thain, explains why she thinks Angel is an important story for a young audience: “I first read the play two years ago and was immediately struck by how beautifully crafted this very unusual friendship between an eccentric old woman and a lonely tomboy. The friendship is unusual, not just because of our characters, but because, outside of families, young people rarely spend time with older people. This is one of the reasons that I think the play is important because the relationship shows us that, however old we get, we can still play and laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

The play is also important because it shows us the devastating effect of dementia on the life of Miriam, who is funny and witty and brilliant, as she struggles with the frightening reality that she can no longer remember. It addresses the difficult question that many families face of how we appropriately care for older people – the battle between institutionalised tidiness of the elderly and the fear that they are not safe. This is a play based on a real woman who lived in a house just like the one in the story. It is always a privilege for a company to premiere a great new play, but Angel is a timely play for us all”

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