A Ship of Fool’s Theatre Company welcome us to Happy Valley Care Home, a place where the elderly are ‘thrown onto life’s scrap heap’. Charles Shetcliffe convincingly plays polite elderly gentleman Mr Whitey, left to the care home by his uninterested daughter. Mr Whitey is played naturalistically, which is a stark yet welcome contrast to the brash, crude and funny Evie Fehilly and Mark Winstanley.
From The Cradle To The Bin tackles issues of old age loneliness with poignant wit
The troupe begin with an endless song, forcing the audience to sing with them over and over which creates a giggly, carefree atmosphere. Mr Whitey has to deal with filthy, insufferable and weirdly sweet Raoul, played by Mark Winstanley, who haphazardly feeds Mr Whitey porridge. The poor sod is left with porridge all over his face throughout the performance, which slowly falls down over the span of the hour, which adds to the overall comedy of the piece. The cast create a sense of sadness towards Mr Whitey, who is totally disregarded by the people he cares about.
The singing and dancing feels unrehearsed, and could potentially be improved with instruments or something to give it a polished edge. We get some timid singing from Evie Fehilly which falls a little flat. Despite this, the performers are naturally comedic and the improvised moments spark hilarity, particularly Winstanley who hilariously plays Raoul with mischief.
The whole piece is brilliantly satirical, with Mr Whitey physically in a wheelie bin for the entirety of the show. The ensemble play with physical space to aid their satirical metaphors, with Evie Fehilly as the care home Director breathing over his shoulder whilst he fills out his happiness questionnaire. This physical closing of the space helps to portray Mr Whitey’s claustrophobia and lack of opinion in his care home.
The cast have us gleeful one moment and guilt-ridden the next. Are we complicit in what happens behind closed doors at the care home? Charles Shetcliffe cares about his character and it shows. As we leave he asks if our grandparents might appreciate a phone call, which is a sweet and heartfelt touch. Despite it’s ridiculous, farcical exterior, From The Cradle To The Bin tackles issues of old age loneliness with poignant wit.