‘Thingummy Bob’ tells the story of an aging man named Bob and his friends as they set out on a quest for something he has lost and cannot seem to remember. This production, both heart-warming and heart-breaking, was written by Linda McLean and brought to life by presented by the Lung Ha Theatre Company as a revival of their last year’s performance. What makes Lung Ha special? Every member of this award winning group has a learning disability. The accessibility and inclusivity of this production is something that all theatre companies should seek to emulate, and it depicts the struggles of aging with accuracy and grace.
Certain cast members in particular stood out, including Emma McCaffrey as Gemma. McCaffery’s stage presence and sense of humour really shone in her take on Bob’s bubbly young friend. And of course, John Edgar as Bob brought just the right sense of poignancy to the role, but not without forgetting his character’s sense of humour. In the scenes where Bob sneakily wheels his way out of his room, Edgar turned to face the audience with a mischievous look on his face that had the audience cackling. His contagious sense of fun was reflected throughout each member of the company.
The show’s outstanding production design emulated the inner workings Bob’s mind. The scenery, complete with wheelchair ramps to facilitate movement, reflected the bland grey interior of the senior living facility where he resides. There are, however, flashes of life which remind us of his past and present happiness. These include the postcards of dogs pasted on the front of the stage sent from his beloved nephew, and the show’s soundtrack, complete with contagious 60’s tunes. The audience was invited to tap their feet and sing along to timeless Beatles hits as Bob discovered nostalgic records from his past.
The play was very brief at just 50 minutes long, and I felt as though some subplots could have been more thoroughly explored; however, I understand that why the creators would have wanted to prevent the show from dragging on. Still, the simplicity of the plot was a bit unsatisfying and I would have appreciated a bit more expansion on certain jokes and storylines.
Author Linda McLean took wrote this play for Luminate, a festival on creativity and aging. She has succeeded in relaying a message that audience members of all ages should pay close attention to. As young people, we tend not to consider the effects of aging unless presented with the struggles of a close loved one, and I think it’s important that we consider the life experiences of all ages to keep our lives in context. Lung Ha succeeded in tackling challenging topics such as memory loss and moving on after tragedy while never losing its underlying optimism. I really enjoyed this performance, and feel glad to have been introduced to this revolutionary company.