City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

A True Tall Tale, Southside Community Centre, Review


By Justine Blundell - Posted on 10 May 2014

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Show Details
Company: 
Teatret Gruppe 38 and Carte Blanche
Production: 
Sara Topsøe-Jensen, Bodil Alling, Søren Søndberg, Kim Glud, Søren la Cour, Lars K. Olesen (creators)
Performers: 
Bodil Alling (Storyteller), Søren Søndberg, Kim Glud, Søren la Cour (live visual and sound effects)
Running time: 
55mins

A True Tall Tale caresses the imagination and envelops the senses, breathing life into an ancient story about the origin of the Christmas Rose.

This enchanting tale was written nearly two centuries ago by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf – who was, incidentally, the first female author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. It has been magically transformed – though, crucially, not updated – into a totally immersive theatrical experience, by Danish theatre companies Teatret Gruppe 38 and Carte Blanche.

As the audience queuing outside began to grow restless, storyteller Bodil Alling appeared in a long, grey cloth dress under a white apron, ringing a bell to summon the crowd to silence. In her soft, Danish accent she bid the children enter first, and they disappeared with her into a dark auditorium. Already there were vaguely sinister undertones reminiscent of the gruesome tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Stepping into the performance space, incense hit the senses and created a mist in the gloom. Orderly and quietly, we were lead into a white marquee that domed over our heads, and invited to lie down in our own, individual hammocks that sat in concentric circles all around us. As we swayed, uncertainly, in the near-darkness, Bodil Alling crept into a central spotlight and the story began.

It was a tale of a ruthless robber family, outlawed and living deep in the forest, and two monks who return them to the civilised world, through the sharing of a Christmas Eve miracle. As the story unfolded, kaleidoscopic, mesmerising projections circled the dome above our heads, transporting us deep into the forest, out into the midst of the villagers’ bright and colourful Christmas celebrations, and enfolding us in the beauty of the cloistered garden of the monastery. Ambient sound effects accompanied the visual spectacles, echoing around the perimeter, drawing us further in to this atmospheric tale.

Pulling no punches on the fear and foreboding, this children’s show neither pandered nor patronised, but satisfied intensely in its dedication and commitment to the truthful telling of a tremendous tale, that excited the senses on every level.