In effect this one woman show, aimed at over 4s, is a two-hander with Verity Quinn’s witty set as the second actor. Dora is an elderly lady waking up to her sea of clutter which includes clothes horses, step ladders, hat stands, bulging old suitcases, full baskets, a doll’s pram, a full-to-bursting supermarket trolley and much more.
Surfacing from the obscured centre-stage bed, Hannah Boyde, excellent as the sweet voiced, myopic and long-sighted Dora, is variously gleeful, determined, funny, rueful and tearful as she strides about her business mostly without speech – because she lives alone. First she gets up, assisted by various eccentric activities such as drinking tea from an elderly bedside tea maker and exercising on an ancient step machine.
Then she clears up, accompanied by a lot of jolly, mostly 1940s music. It’s a compelling performance as she charges repeatedly off stage with all her belongings bundled up and disposed of at a jumble sale until she’s left – looking ecstatic and liberated – with a simple bed and chair.
The delightful, imaginative surprise promenade ending must mean a lot of ongoing organisation for stage manager Richard Pattison, his deputy Kate Eccles and his assistant Christine Hollinshead. So well done to all concerned.
Unicorn, London, September 16-November 17
- Helen East
- Purni Morell
- Unicorn Theatre
- Hannah Boyde
- Running time