The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean at the Paradijs in The Hague

I have nothing against children, honestly, but I regard children’s theatre as a separate and different thing and something not within our remit – we can’t do everything. But STET’s current show is for youngsters and after previewing it I thought it might appeal, so I went along.

The reason I fancied The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean was that it sounded rather eccentric, surrealist even, taking its theme from objets trouvé.

Shona Reppe’s character in her one-woman show is Dr Patricia Baker who is a scrapologist. Yes, you may well ask. A scrapologist is not, as you might think, someone who studies minor playground skirmishes but someone who collects, collates and investigates scraps as in scrapbook.  And a jolly good ology it is too, and one in which I must declare an interest. I am an inveterate collector/hoarder and I love ephemera, bits of paper, anything on paper. Paper tells stories and holds information that no other article can and that’s the attraction.

The white coated Dr Baker starts by explaining this to her audience and then proceeds to investigate her latest find, a large scrapbook full of photos, envelopes, hand scribbled notes, feathers, assorted clock hands, mysterious stains resulting from a meal for two and much more besides. She takes us through her forensic examination gradually putting the pieces of the puzzle together until we know all about the person who created the book and the love affair that it immortalized.

Using a versatile pseudo-laboratory as a set, complete with swabs, magnifying glasses, tweezers, projectors and some nice sound effects, of which I would like to have had lots more, she creates a magical mystery tour to enthrall and involve her young and, in your reviewer’s case, not so young audience. It was a really clever idea nicely done. Had I been forty years younger I would have believed every word, as it was, I only believed the half of it.   Michael Hasted   8th February 2020

Photo by Eoin Carey