Pros: A funny and engaging night of poetic and fantastical storytelling.
Cons: Needed more than just the words to create a truly magical atmosphere.
To attend an event hosted by the Crick Crack Club for the first time is to feel as though one has stumbled into a secret cabal. Specialising in “Fairy tales for Grownups”, the Crick Crack Club hosts various nights around London where storytellers charm and mesmerise you with a blend of myth, intrigue, humour and fable.
The theme at this particular event, held at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, was The Cabinet of Zoological Curiosities. The set up was very simple. Held in a venue that reminded me very much of my school hall, with A-Level art adorning the walls, three storytellers took turns to tell tales of fantastical creatures, terrifying beasts, and animal gods. The stage was sparse – save for a blow-up shark suspended from the ceiling and a plastic flamingo downstage right. This allowed all focus to be on the performers, although a little more attention to aesthetics would, I’m sure, have only enhanced the magic of the evening.
Our three performers were Nell Phoenix, Tuup, and Hugh Lupton. Each took turns to tell their tales, all much reminiscent of Kipling’s Just So Stories, or Ted Hughes’ How The Whale Became. The whole night felt much like listening to the stories I was told as a child. Nostalgia for an older time and an older place seemed to be a theme running throughout the stories, most of them set in distant times and lands, explaining origins and how things came to be. Eleven stories were told all together, of varying length. Because I was writing them down I remember each one – my friend remembers only one or two distinctly, and stories with similar themes have now blended into one another.
Nell told us tales of wolverines, and of cocky sparrows befriending hungry dogs. Her stories were fantastical, and delivered with great energy and sound effects. Tuup performed stories of his native Guyana, of monkeys and tortoises marrying, pigs getting pregnant, and the friendship between a leopard cub and a baby boy. Hugh was the most poetic raconteur, deftly employing the rule of three and using repetition and rhythm to draw the audience in. It was clear that, for regular attendees of Crick Crack’s events, these three are favourites, as all were engaging call and response from the audience. This did leave us first timers somewhat perplexed, but it shows that the storytelling circuit in London is very well loved and supported.
Some percussion and a little whistle was provided by Tuup and Hugh to accompany the tales, but this was a little uneven throughout and one really wished for more in order to make the delivery of the stories with the music as effective as possible. However, The Cabinet of Zoological Curiosities had all the ingredients of a great evening and it was hugely enjoyable to be taken on a journey of imagination.
Crick Crack’s evenings are inexpensive and would be an excellent introduction to the world of theatre. The stories were told with humour and a twinkle in the eye – one of Hugh’s stories about rabbit guts will stay with me for quite some time!
Created by: Crick Crack Club
Runs Until: This show has now finished its run.
Booking Link: http://www.crickcrackclub.com/MAIN/EVENTSF.HTM