Feb 19

FRINGE 2017: Stories in the Dark – Holden Street Theatres – 4K

Performed in the Manse at Holden Street, this is an intimate experience, with audience members filling seating around the walls of a room no bigger than an average bedroom, and clustered on pouffes on the floor. Absolute darkness is essential, so do yourself and your fellow audience members a favour and switch off all phones and remove flashing fitness bands or the like.

The gradual immersion into darkness allows the audience time to settle into the space and let their hearing tune into the voices of the performers. Once the transition is complete, those voices, spread around the close space, take you on journeys of old world charm, philosophical musing, tumblr rabbit holes, and aural tidal waves.

The cadence of the poetic pieces lull you into a comfortable reverie, only to be pulled out of this by a turn in direction and a change of pace. Throughout, the haunting tones of a lone cello (expertly played by Rachel Bruerville) set the tone and blend into the tales as another voice. The performances of Nathan O’Keefe, Rebecca Mayo and Elizabeth Hay are commanding and powerful, though the increased focus on the dialogue is unforgiving on the occasional stumble over timing or loss of words. When it flows, it is magical.

The ability of darkness to heighten the experience of sound is most apparent in the comparison of the folk songs that bookend the show. While both are similar in tone and execution (the a Capella singing of the performers blending beautifully to create an enveloping blanket of harmony) the power of the later piece penetrates the dark with a particularly moving intensity, closing off what is a well structured and interesting theatrical experience.

Kryztoff rating: 4K

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