The Owle Schreame
Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre


It was a genuine disappointment when the venue door opened as master raconteur Brice Stratford wound up his tale, effectively cutting him off from an undoubtedly fascinating and sage point he made about the symbiosis between storyteller and audience, in their ability to create a story only in the mind of a willing audience. It disappointed as I genuinely would have sat, rapt with vivid attention, for another hour of story and lesson.

Storyteller, you see, is not simply a couple of collected stories; it's a masterclass in oral tradition and storytelling, as Stratford recites celtic variants of some ancient tales in almost Homeric style, replete with rolling repetitions, transfered epithets, and a welcoming style that draws the audience in.

What's more, between the tales he delves into the nature of Scottish folklore and the uniqueness of the feminine trinity inherent to it. It's a sublime and expert performance, like a TED Talk given by one of the Brothers Grimm.

The stories themselves are rich and evocative. One featured the relatively obscure Celtic deity the Cailleach Bheur and a princess making wishes that would cost more than she could guess; the other was a sad and wistful celtic retelling of the Grovelhog, a version of the tale more familiar to most as the legend of Hans My Hedgehog.

Each was long, yet compelling. Indeed, it's a shame that these tales, woven so grand, grew so long in the telling that they overspilled the running time, as being pulled from the fireside atmosphere was unfortunately jarring.

Still, it was a rare and fine pleasure, and certainly not to be missed.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan

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