Edinburgh Fringe 2012
A quartet of vintage attired ladies sing and storytell their way through the attic, telling the tales of their grandparents arrival in the UK.
Welcoming you to the show from the offset, the Ruby Dolls shake your hands and chat to you gently whilst you queue to be let into the venue.
The show space is hot and dry with bare light-bulbs in the ceiling- a suitable setting for the attic which they are evoking. Mannequins, vintage brown leather suitcases and bunting in faded browns and sepia tones are jumbled in the background. The singing quartet of ruby red-lipped and ruby shoed ladies with perfectly curled and coiffured hair. Singing traditional and modern songs in a vintage style from the period 1902 to 2011 (the latter being written by Jess Doll), they take you on a charming journey through the attic as it were, as they tell the stories of their Grandparents lives and beginnings and how they travelled to England in the first place. Their tales take you across the Globe from hot and dusty South Africa to Italy to the North of England and beyond. Through the use of story-telling and song they successfully weave the tales of their respective relatives in a delicate and engaging manner, involving the audience in hand gestures, using everything from light costuming to puppetry to illustrate their stories and characters within them.
The girls interact with each other onstage with a warm and gently humorous manner and the live piano playing by Benjamin Cox (hiding quietly behind it in the corner) adds to the overall warmth of the show. The overall show is a heart-warming piece that has the feel of being told a bedtime story by your own grandparents. Reflecting a feeling of nostalgia by dressing in glamorous 1940s style clothing aids the effect that the content of the show has as the Dolls are never crude, patronising or rude, and indeed are consummate genteel ladies whilst taking you on this journey.
Overall this is not genre-defying theatre but makes a refreshing change to many of the shows available at the Fringe as it is simply a comforting, well-crafted and lovely piece of work that it would be suitable to bring your own grandparents to enjoy.