Presented by Live in the Dark
Reviewed 21 February 2017
It’s not always the case in the Fringe but Stories in the Dark did exactly what it said on the box. Initially, low lighting helped us find our seats in what seemed like an ordinary sitting room, with performers Elizabeth Hay, Rebecca Mayo, Nathan O’Keefe and cellist Rachel Bruerville already seated in the corners of the room. As the stories progressed the table lamps were dimmed further and then we were plunged into total darkness.
I freely admit to being a BBC Radio 4 drama tragic and much prefer radio to television as the pictures are so much better. Working with very talented performers, director Tim Overton, certainly achieved ‘that sense of calm and comfort when someone’s telling you a story and you’re hearing the different voices and painting the pictures in your head’ (http://adelaidereview.com.au/arts/performing-arts/paint-mental-picture-stories-dark/).
I enjoyed those stories which were familiar to me, such as In a Dark, Dark Wood or The Raven and A Tell Tale Heart by the inimitable Edgar Allen Poe but was particularly moved in hearing for the first time The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde. The nightingale, trying to help a student who cries out for a red rose for his love, sacrifices its heart’s blood and dies to create one, believing love is that important. But neither the student nor the nightingale realises that one’s love may be unrequited, as the girl spurns the student’s offering.
Rachel Bruerville’s cello accompaniment added multiple layers to each story. Not just providing atmospheric music in the scary stories but also another sense entirely. Not only could we hear the cello, in such a small room we could also feel its vibrations. The constant beat of the cello mimicking the beep of the monitor, for the story set in a hospital, was also symbolic of the patient’s own heartbeat in what might have been a life or death situation.
I highly recommend Stories in the Dark for a rich and rewarding evening’s entertainment.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 4.5
Venue: Holden Street Theatres
Season: 21-24 Feb 28 Feb-5March
Duration: 50 mins