Review: Miss Dotty’s Specs

Left Bank Leeds

Leeds is in the middle of something of, well, it would probably be overstating it to say renaissance, but there is definitely something in the air.

Without resorting to nonsensical talk of auras and energies, there is without doubt a burgeoning community spirit in the city and it is a spirit emanating from the fact that artists of all shades are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with things.

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It is probably possible to trace this “energy” back to when companies like Slung Low, Rash Dash and The Paper Birds moved into the city and now it feels as though they have inspired – or at least created the conditions for – a whole new swathe of artists to follow in their trail.

One such group, Left Bank Leeds, have recently taken over a disused church on Cardigan Road, near the Headingley cricket ground, and are turning it into one of the city’s newest arts venues.

While it is clear that there is much work to be done to turn the building into an all-purpose arts venue, it was also evident on Sunday afternoon as families poured in for this show that the people behind Left Bank are right to believe that if you build it, they will come.

Miss Dotty’s Specs is a one-woman show created by writer Daniel Ingram-Brown and performer Lynsey Jones. The hour-long production is a collection of parables, which could easily make it a little heavy going, but what rescues the show is Jones’s lightness of touch and a highly inventive staging. Jones’s mischievous nods and winks to the adults also make it engaging for all ages.

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Miss Dotty, secretary of the ancient Blottings Academy, has lost her spectacles – magic specs that transport her anywhere. She arrives in a fluster, looking for her glasses, and tells her story – how she came to lose her glasses, during the journey of finding them.

The show, which is aimed at children, is occasionally laden down by a complicated story, but the audience participation – which is never forced and clearly was engaging for the young people in the auditorium – and the sheer exuberance of Jones’s performance help make this an entertaining story and a piece of theatre that it is impossible not to like.

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