Edinburgh Fringe 2010
"This intriguing tale follows the story of a decaying house, a forgotten old lady and the memories that lie within. An inventive blend of clowning, visual theatre and puppetry."
The components of Mrs Rosie Benjamin’s house wait forlornly for her return as they play and bicker with one another like lost children. Each character is expertly portrayed with the mannerisms and tics that you would expect. First is Wall, delicately played by Bethany Sheldon, elegant, straight backed and severe; fire-loving Chimney follows, played sensuously and minx-like by Jennifer Sumner and, finally, Kathryn Lowe – the gloriously stupid and warm-hearted Floor with an overly affectionate relationship with the Hoover.
As they search for their recently lost owner, an elderly biscuit tin discharges it’s contents, sending the lonesome house on a journey through memories of love, loss and happiness, expertly woven together through clown, puppetry and physical theatre. Look out in particular for the milk bottle moment and Kathryn Lowe’s wonderful gossip on the washing line. However, it is unfair to pick out any one member of cast for praise; pieces of a house function together to create a whole and this is exactly what this ensemble do with perfection.
The production team must not be forgotten either, skilfully creating the sense of a house that creaks with emptiness and abandonment, from the raggedly simple set to Jan Bradshaw’s hauntingly shabby costumes and the brilliantly fitting soundscapes from Matthew Marks.
This is a piece of theatre that highlights the heartbreak and isolation that can come with growing older and reminds the audience that all Mrs Benjamins have a backstory full of life and colour if we care to look for it. Maison Foo appeals to grandchildren everywhere to go and find those biscuit tins before your Mrs Benjamin is lost forever.