fringe: stories in the dark

adelaide fringe: stories in the dark
In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house. And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room.

And in that dark, dark room tonight there were three performers, a cellist and less than 20 audience members.

Stories in the Dark is exactly that. Voices in the dark, telling stories, filling up the blackness with words and music.

It starts simply enough, we're lead into a very small room, the walls lined with chairs and the three performers, reading and waiting for us, each in their own corner. In the fourth corner there's a cellist.

I can't be perfectly sure, because I haven't the notes by me, but I think it goes something like this: te-rolly-loll-loll, loll lolly-loll-loll, O tolly-loll-loll-lee-ly-li-i-do! And then repeat, you know.

And then the words start, first spoken, then sung, then spoken again... and with the performers that close there's an intimacy there. It is a little like being read a story before bed.

Then the lights go down. Slowly at first, then a little more and a little more, until at last we all slip together into complete and total blackness. Not a sliver of light, nothing to see, not even odd looming shapes in the void.

There's also a moment of silence... before the words begin again. Some of them feel fresh and fun and new, others I recognise as being old, old words. But that's all there is, the words and the voices and whatever you bring into the room with you.

In the dark green woods, when the sun was high, I saw a lady riding by, she had flashing eyes and golden hair, she rode upon a dappled mare.

The three voices (Elizabeth Hay, Nathan O'Keefe and Rebecca Mayo) bounce the stories from one corner to another, each picking up the thread as they need to, with Rachel Bruerville using the cello as both music and sound effects.

And there's one frightening moment where one story starts, then another and another and the cello slides into the remaining spaces and it's pure cacophony.

But mostly it's amazing and sweet and just filled with such rich and wondrous words by authors throughout time.

Still fog, which the sunrise cannot pierce, I know there is sunrise because I am a sailor, why else I know not. I dared not go below, I dared not leave the helm, so here all night I stayed.

I've been to more than a few shows in past Fringes that were all about the words... the sound, the shape, the texture of the words, but I've never been to a show quite like this... where it was only about what you could hear, not (at least not after the first ten minutes) about what you could see.

Director Tim Overton has put together something both magical and intimate and gentle and wonderfully odd in equal measure, and it's something I absolutely recommend you go and see if you love stories.

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