These Old Shoes is Simply Beautiful At Illusion Theater

Now, nearly through my fiftieth year, I am very aware that there are more years behind then there are ahead. As such my mind turns more and more frequently to the past and things that might have been. I also think about the future and what that holds for me, for my wife, for my remaining parents. Transatlantic Love Affair’s These Old Shoes is a stirring and creative exploration of memory and aging, of love and life. Transatlantic Love Affair the theatre company is billed as a Physical Theatre Ensemble, as such there is an emphasis on the body as the primary instrument in the production of this theatre piece. There are no sets, no props, no costumes to speak of, just the actors bodies and voices to create their characters. I was under the mistaken impression that this was a musical. There is music composed and played on guitar by Jeff A. Miller throughout the play and there is one song that the cast sings called “Echoes and Memories” which was created by The Champagne Drops. It’s a stripped down performance that has done away with much of the usual theatrical conventions to discover that what remains is all that is needed to create a very moving and beautiful work of art.

The show was conceived and Directed by Diogo Lopes and created by the Transatlantic Love Affair ensemble who perform the piece. The show has a central storyline that takes place in the present and in flashback. In the present Jim is preparing, with the help of his Granddaughter, to move out of his home and into a retirement community. In the past we see his first love and how their story played out. That is the main narrative thrust but it is filled with little moments about the other residents at the retirement home. We see them in their daily routines, and we also get glimpses into their pasts as well. This is an opportunity to reflect on the way we change throughout our lives. This reminds us that while they may seem like eccentric old characters steeped in comic relief, they, and in fact we, were young once. No person is the simply what you see at the end of their lifetime, we all have pasts, we all have things that would surprise our grandchildren as much as they surprise us. What’s amazing is how fully we feel we get to know these different characters in a show that runs only 75 minutes.

The characters of Jim and his first love Marjorie are played by Derek Lee Miller and Peytie McCandless. Their transformations from young to old and back again in a matter of seconds are so perfectly subtle, when they are older they get just that little bit smaller, they walk a little slower, it’s simple but effective. This night Jim’s granddaughter was played by the understudy Leslie Vincent. She unlike most played two completely different characters and they moved and sounded completely different. If they actually went off stage, changed costumes and put a wig on, you’d never guess they were the same performer. The entire ensemble is clearly very in tune and in control of their bodies, illustrating what they mean by Physical Theatre Ensemble. They are Heather Bunch, Chasya Hill, and Eric Nelson. And my favorite of the group Allison Vincent, who actually gets to play a lot of different characters, most of them wonderful bits of comic relief that lighten the mood and provide a laugh just when you need it. The final member of the group is Jeff A. Miller who as noted composed and performs the music during the show. He perfectly scores everything that is taking place, making the opening sequence as we see the various characters getting ready in the morning play like scenes from a silent movie.

These Old Shoes is not a show that I think my kids would get much out of. I suspect you need to be at least in your mid 30’s and probably at 40 for it to connect in all the ways it did for me. I don’t think anyone would leave not feeling that their time was well spent, I’m just saying if you are 40 or older you’ll likely fall in love with this show, I certainly have. For more information about the show and to purchase tickets go to

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