Pros: A friendly environment where adults can indulge in a good old-fashioned story time. This unadorned narrative has no lights and no costume, but boasts high drama delivered simply by a man with a story, a drum and some creative flair.
Cons: As expected in myths, the story is very simple with a moral attached, which is no bad thing, but a complicated ‘who-done-it’ with startling twists and turns is not to be expected.
The Eloquence of a Fairy Tale may simply be a night of old storytelling without the theatrics of a ‘show’ but it certainly comes with its own set of surprises.
Never did I think that in an age when attention spans hold the breadth of just 140 characters or the amount of time it takes to nab an Instagram shot, an audience would be held in such rapture by a man and his words- no lights, no fancy sound, no costume, props or set- just a few funny voices, great storytelling and a drum.
The award-winning storyteller of the evening – mythologist Dr Martin Shaw – regaled us with the Indo-European wondertale, popularised by the Brothers Grimm’s Faithful John; a tale of a young King who falls in love with a beautiful woman. Presented with three pesky trials of love interfering with the potential for perpetual bliss, the King is rescued from these obstacles without having to lift a finger, but with a terrible price to his dear servant John.
The story is told with great panache to the appropriately tribal interludes of a hand drum and what appeared to be other unobtrusive nods to a more traditional style of storytelling. I’m not sure if I have ever known an adult audience to be so absorbed by such a simple style of entertainment.
Shaw’s style for this particular performance (as he never tells a story the same way twice), seems to pay homage to the traditional while embracing a modern audience. He allows humour into his narration, as well as some cheeky and endearing acknowledgements of his own performance’s flaws and some insightful asides.
Despite being held by the story and Shaw’s narration for the duration of the show, I did feel as if I was always waiting for something bigger to happen in the story – something more complicated and unexpected. The story is dramatic, the drama being abetted by the great flair with which it is told but obviously (due to the trappings of the fairytale genre), a surprising plot is not to be expected.
This was a one-off event by the Crick Crack Club, England’s premier promoter and programmer of performance storytelling, as part of a series of talks in which speakers from a variety of disciplines ‘explore their living relationship with story, with metaphor and meaning, and with the very archaeology of the imagination.’ (Ben Haggarty, Artistic Director of the Crick Crack Club).
Based on The Eloquence of a Fairy Tale by Dr Martin Shaw, one can only say that these are informative and mind-opening events – a very pleasant yet unusual evening’s entertainment, well worth checking out.
Producer: The Crick Crack Club
Booking Link: http://www.crickcrackclub.com/talks/
Booking Until: Booking Currently Unavailable