"Tales told in a tent"
by Michael Gray for remotegoat on 25/07/15

This Festival of Fairytales for Grown-ups and Myths for Kids opened on the rainiest day in July, in a massive “contemporary yurt” just by the Oxo Tower.

The first event features that doyen of story-tellers, Ben Haggarty, with The Blacksmith at the Bridge of Bones. It's a quintessential story of master and disciple, good and evil, supernatural skills and magical powers.
Haggarty takes us with him to a world of shape-shifting serpents, a wolf in a wheel, golden legs and silver wings, towers and eagles, and a cold, coffined bride woken with a kiss. And all brought back at the end to the river Wye, just down the road from Haggarty's Herefordshire home.
The ancient art of story-telling is in the surest, safest hands here. He uses mime – conjuring the wolf, the spider's web out of thin air - humour, repetition and surprise to hold his audience entranced for almost an hour, weaving familiar elements - seven years, the power of three [three white metals, three trials, three days] – into a compelling narrative, craftily structured for the most satisfying effect. Like children, we enjoy the familiar, love a clever twist and a happy ending.
Direct speech too – this man in black becomes the youthful hero [named Jack, naturally], his widowed mother, the eponymous smith – a mighty man indeed – and the sensual serpent queen with forked tongue.
As the rain patters on the contemporary canvas roof, Haggarty introduces his story, and warms up his audience, with a traditional Haiti welcome. His listeners are divided into teachers and sleepers, students and nuisances. All high-tech life support is banned, the phones, the pods and the pads, the "tweets and the twattering". The spoken word rules, the imagination roams free, in a ritual exchange as old as mankind itself.

This pop-up extravaganza continues, rain or shine, until August 2, with a fine roster of fabulatori and different tales every day.

Add Your review?

Have your say, add your review

Other recent reviews by Michael Gray
The tempest
magical, captivating cross gender Shakespeare by Michael Gray
Othello's Guilt, a monologue from William Shakespeare
Othello tormented by anguished guilt by Michael Gray
The Alchemist
fast and furious Jonson farce by Michael Gray
Measure for measure
Short Measure successful and succinct by Michael Gray
Much Ado About Nothing
war-thoughts and wooing on Bankside by Michael Gray