Pros: Engaging, deeply emotional and at times outright hilarious, Jan Blake’s storytelling is among the best in the world.
Cons: Some might not like classic storytelling but don’t let this put you off.
So, you’re not into storytelling performances, are you? Neither was I. However, the first of the Crick Crack Club’s Spring 2015 Soho Storytelling Season, Old Woman, had all the ingredients of a mouth-watering theatre night out. Firstly, it was at the quirky Soho Theatre, bang in the middle of the action. Secondly, the Crick Crack Club has a growing reputation for being seriously committed to the very best storytelling in the UK. And, finally, a quick look at Jan Blake’s CV and it immediately became clear that this show was going to be no laughing matter, or at least not only a laughing matter. Heralded as one of the most influential story-tellers in the UK (some say in the world), Jan Blake was bound to make this night big.
Of Jamaican parentage but born and bred in Manchester, she just wouldn’t keep herself quiet, would she? With her innate ability to gel with the public and adapt her voice, accent and tempo to the gravity or lightness of the story being narrated, Jan came into the upstairs room, got everyone singing and clapping in no time, made us all laugh and ponder and dream and sob and giggle and dream and we all lived happily ever after. Well, quite so.
Her choice of stories was terrific: themed around the power of Old Women, the women who have seen it all, who have given birth and nurtured, who have grown out of fear and have acquired the ethereal wisdom that keeps the world together. Or something like that. Add a pinch of fatwa, a bongo or two, some choral singing and masses of energy and you have little marvels of increasing complexity and variable grounding with reality. But who needs reality anyway, when one can travel to and from Africa and Jamaica and see three very different old women materialize in front of you, infusing the room with tribal notes, West Indian flavours and celebrations for the Manchester United win at the FA cup? Well, the latter bit didn’t go down quite as well with the biased local crowd, but hey! I want more stories.
Unfortunately, this show was a one-off, so if you’ve missed Jan’s London performance, try catching her somewhere else or wait until she’s back; I’m sure she will be. Alternatively, I’d trust the Crick Crack Club’s future choices and give their next storyteller a chance to warm your heart too.
Performed by: Jan Blake
Producer: Crick Crack Club
Box Office: 078 7013 5574
Booking Link: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/crick-crack-club-old-woman/
Booking Until: This was a one-off performance