The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean
Rediscovering the beauty of scrapbooks
This article is from 2012.
Shona Reppe’s new production is a wonderfully scientific venture that slowly blossoms into a love story. The set is beautiful and intricate, a cross between a science laboratory, an operating theatre and a dark room.
Reppe dons a lab coat and becomes Dr Patricia Baker, a scrapologist – someone who studies scrapbooks — and founding member of SCRAPS, the Society for the Care, Repair, Analysis and Probing of Scrapbooks. She carefully pours over a Victorian scrapbook she has found, sifting through collages of photos, rail tickets and clippings to uncover the mystery within.
It starts a little slowly, and though the humour doesn’t go over the heads of the children here, the adults are definitely laughing louder and more often. But this is a lovely and thoughtful piece from Shona Reppe and Catherine Wheels director, Gill Robertson. The sheer amount of detail in the set and the scrapbook shows true love, care and attention, and the play really credits its young audience with intelligence by letting its twists and turns unfold at their own pace.
Reppe is brilliant as Dr Baker, infatuated by her new discovery and eager to get to the bottom of the mystery. But there’s no hamminess here, just an enthusiastic forensic goal to discover the origins of the scrapbook. As in her previous acclaimed shows, like Cinderella and Potato Needs a Bath, Reppe is animated and energetic without ever being over the top.
It seems apt that the show takes place in the Scottish Book Trust too, as it exudes a touching reverence for scrapbooks that’s been all but lost in the digital age. It all culminates in a wonderful atmosphere and a touching finale that has everyone smiling and more than a few eyes welling up.
Traverse @ Scottish Book Trust, 228 1404, until Aug 26 (not 13, 20), 11am, £10 (family ticket £32)