Granny Smith – Institut Français d’Écosse

Performed and Created by Tracey Boot

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Chaotic, bilingual and a fan of all things shopping and cooking, Granny Smith spends her time dipping in and out between her love of Scotland where she would teach and her home in France. Paying a visit to Granny is like being with one of the family, warming and welcoming as the audience gradually opens up in this interactive show.

Now, it’s relatively obvious that the audience the show is intended for is the youngsters. Like the rest of the production, the structure and pacing are targeted at children, but no one can deny that the charm of Granny Smith ripples across generations. You’re never too old to learn a new language, dust off those school lessons or create absolute devastation making a crumble…

Who’d have thought making a Pear & Chocolate crumble could dissolve into unmitigated chaos? Well, this is what happens when adults are left in charge. A regular Julia Childs, Granny Smith takes to the kitchen like a tornado on a boat, ducking and weaving before realising that she may need an extra set of hands.

Audience interactions have been a challenge since the onset of Covid-19, limiting the nature in which performers can incorporate willing audience members. But to see a return to interplays, to a shared enjoyment onstage is a heart-warming sight. Equally, it’s the pinnacle of the performance as Tracey Boot can interact and elevate the production from being too one-sided in its exploration of the French language and its crossing paths with English.

Quaint, the set design lends itself to Granny’s aesthetic and design as humbleness with a soupcon of colour and panache. Boot’s dedication to a lineage of crafters, generations of her family, results in a touching production with grassroots evident in the creative process.

And by the end, we’re informed of how old Granny’s mask is, and how many times it has been repaired – the care and dedication are touching, and evident. If there’s time – allow yourself to stay back and share in the experience and underrated craft involved in mask-work.

Despite any pretences, Granny Smith isn’t purely a French lesson cunningly disguised as a children’s show. The educational elements flow naturally with the conversational manner of the script, and the humour drawing audience’s into the experience rather than the exercise. Bienvenue à la maison, Granny Smith se réjouit de votre visite.

Granny Smith runs at Institut Français d’Écosse on select dates until August 30th. Tickets can be purchased here.

Review by Holly Hughes


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