Finding Joy – A Review

Finding Joy – Vamos Theatre at the Corn Hall

The ancient Greeks knew a thing or two. Mask theatre, when done well, manages to tap into something deeply emotional, almost primal, in a way conventional theatre frequently struggles with. Although counterintuitive (isn’t emotion expressed mainly through facial expression?) perhaps it is easier to identify with a cartoonish face mask than a particular actor, something Vamos Theatre capitalises on in this universal tale of aging, love and redemption.

Masks also allowed the four cast members to play a bewildering array of characters, deftly choreographed so that the narrative zipped along. The people in Joy’s life may have been archetypes – a disaffected youth, a world weary daughter, a disgruntled nurse, a vainglorious doctor – but such was the skill of the mime artists that each character had a unique charm and distinctive personality.

Finding Joy is, of course, a play on words. As lucidity starts to slip away, Joy seeks comfort in memories, finding a sense of self, despite being constantly talking over and about. But the play also confronts, with considerable wit and a lightness of touch, the challenges the family faces, and how in the most difficult of circumstances, it is important to find joy.

By David Vass