Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Storytelling: Uncaged

Oh wow, it feels like an age since I was at Crick Crack. So I wouldn't have missed last night for the world. Booked months ago, and it finally rolled around. A late start, and a walk of under 10 minutes to get to Soho Theatre, meant I stayed late in the office. Unfortunately, so did the git that sits over the way, and feels the need to blast out music at full volume when he's there after hours. He turned it down, eventually.

I arrived quite early, for once - made my way up all those stairs, and found the usual mc, Ben Haggerty, chatting to someone outside. Inside, about 10 minutes before start time, hardly anyone had yet taken their seats - as usual, I plonked myself in the front row. But, of course, it was to fill up completely - we duly had the usher come over to ask us please not to leave single seats free. A couple of people arrived late - one very late indeed; they don't mind this, and reserve seats for them by the door - but I'd hate it to be me, you miss so much!

Behind me, I caught snatches of an interesting conversation. I didn't know the couple, but he was explaining to her that he'd been going to storytelling for about six months, and she was asking him to explain it to her. Bless, he was doing his best - it's not easy to explain it to someone who's never seen it. Not without it sounding trite. Onstage, Ben introduced the storyteller in his usual, theatrical style. I haven't seen Michael Harvey before, an unassuming-looking fellow who stepped from the back. His only prop was a stool, as he began his tale.

It only lasted about an hour (I was grateful for that, because of the folding seats, which aren't the most comfortable). But in that hour, it felt as though we travelled leagues, into a different and strange world. As he explained to us at the end, he loves Breton folk tales, and Uncaged was (apart from the ending, which he fiddled with slightly) a retelling of one of those. Indeed, Ben had introduced it by asking whether we'd been at the "Wild Night" at the Wellcome Collection in February - more wildness in this tale. Which is always welcome.

Michael's style, I found very reminiscent of Ben's, in parts. He knows how to be theatrical, and in parts you could sense the poetry bursting out. But his way was chattier, jokier. And as he wove us a tale of royalty and wildness, he couldn't stop the humour bubbling to the surface. There was a lively crowd in, more than ready to join in when invited, and sometimes when not. "Hurrah!", someone cried when the hero appeared - and when, just as the giant's head was cut off, there was a thud just behind me - well, the whole place burst out laughing. "You don't know how long it took to rehearse that!" as he laughed too.

At the very end, he gave us another little soupçon, about how we're the bum notes in the song of creation. And for that, he brought on another prop - a handheld instrument, wooden, with metal strips attached that you twanged with the thumbs. I believe it's called a thumb piano, or kalimba. Ah, this was excellent - I spent the night transfixed. He hasn't reached the status of my favourite storyteller, but he's definitely in the top four. Oh, and the lady behind me? Her companion asked her what she'd thought. And she exclaimed, "Amazing! The way he held everyone's attention.." Well, yes. It's not easy to explain what happens on these nights, but I think that a little piece of magic slips out of the pages of the story, and settles on the audience. And sometimes, for a little while, that magic stays with you. I was up the road with a few people who were chatting about the performance, and I swear I caught someone whistling a snatch of the tune they played at the end, when I was shopping in Tesco.

Tonight, I'm taking myself to Half a Sixpence, just a short walk from the office again. Best value I found was with Amazon Tickets.

Tomorrow, back with London Literary Walks of course - and I'm looking forward to this one more than most - it's The Chaucer Walk, and I do love things medieval!

Thursday is a red-letter day, with the last scheduled Meetup of the Man with the Hat. Both groups (London for Less Than a Tenner standing, and Let's Do London- for less! in seats, as usual) are headed to the Globe for Romeo and Juliet. It'll be poignant.. but the production itself will be controversial, from what I hear, being - shall we say, avant-garde. As usual, I'll reserve judgement till I see for myself. Then it's back to Ireland for the weekend.

On the 15th & 16th, I'm off to Pint of Science - following a theme, given my background, I'm headed to a talk on Small Is Beautiful (quantum physics) on Monday and one on Across the Universe (cosmology, and now sold out) on Tuesday. Rock on..

On the 17th, London Literary Walks is off to Highbury. And so am I.

On the 18th, I'm booked for free comedy in Hammersmith, with Free Comedy Nights in Hammersmith Wimbledon & GreenwichRandom London, and London Live Comedy. Something, frankly, that I usually cancel, but you never know - nothing better has yet come up for this night!

On the 19th, I saw that London Social Detours (a side-shoot of Ken's Events) were charging £3 to go to the free jazz concert at the Royal Academy. So I was going to go on my own. Free. But then the London European Club (LEC) advertised a Norwegian Dixieland concert at Jamboree.. well, that sounded like more fun, so now I'm going to that instead.

On the 20th, I'm doing something local - a guided walk on Residents, Rascals & Riots, in Holborn. With London for a Tenner or Less.

The 21st, London Dramatic Arts (LDAM) is headed out of town. We're going all the way to Northampton, to see a couple of Shakespearian plays, one directed by one of her members. Richard II, to be precise, with Titus Andronicus to whet our appetites. No-one has signed up apart from me, but what the hey I've never been there, so it'll be interesting.

On the 22nd, I'm off to Ugly Lies the Bone, at the Lyttleton.

On the 23rd, Funzing UK is taking me to an Infinitease Burlesque Show. Probably up in Leytonstone, so if anything better comes up in the meantime, I'm up for it! That's a terribly long way out.

The 24th was supposed to be the Man with the Hat's last event, but he had to cancel. Instead, I discovered that the UL Alumni Association (UL is my alma mater) is holding a talk on Brexit that night - so that'll be nice.

The 25th, Crick Crack is back - at Crouch End Arthouse again, unfortunately. It's just so far! Still going, of course - the more especially because it's Michael Harvey again! He's worth the trip. Then I'm back to Ireland for the Bank Holiday weekend again - and taking the bank holiday, this time!

On the 30h, LDAM are at the Olivier to see Common. So am I.. on a cheap Travelex ticket, which I booked direct with the venue. So I'll be avoiding them, since they don't appreciate that.

On the 31st, free comedy in Hammersmith is up again (temporarily, at least), with the above groups, plus London Art Comedy & Culture Lovers (another offshoot of Ken's Events).

On 1 June, I eschewed the free comedy in Hammersmith for the Ghosts & Executions Tour, with London for a Tenner or Less - even though that guide wasn't great the last time, so I cancelled this previously, he's better than that free comedy! Oh, and I forgot to mention, the code WELLBEING30 got me 30% off this. How it qualifies as "well-being" I don't know, but I'm not complaining!

Then I'm off down to Helen for the weekend - she told me about this Living History Festival, and I said yes please!

The 5th, I'm back to Soho Theatre with the Crick Crack Club, for something called The Frog Princess - Punked. Ben told us last night that there's going to be a full punk band - goodness, who would've thought that Sally Pomme Clayton had a hidden punk side!

And the 6th June, I'm with the LEC, to see the Images Ballet Company at the Arts Depot.

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