Svend-Erik Engh and Neil Sutcliffe
Scottish Storytelling Centre
The common wolf is a much misunderstood animal, but one whose sadly now largely-vanished presence from Europe has done little to dispel the fear, wonder and fascination felt around these majestic beasts. Yet, that fear and wonder has brought about myriad tales, myths and legends which surround them and, from one corner of the continent to the ends of the islands, they crop up again and again in poem and story.
Wolves Within is a play which combines several fables from across Europe, each centring around a wolf or wolves and building into each other and the overall theme through cheerfully told story, live music and song. The tales of princesses, stable-boys, magic items and daring Vikings are all fascinating, while familiar. It's true, they don't always marry up in the best way, there is a stilted feeling to some of the links between them and there are a few confusing character name mix-ups throughout the story. But, the convivial feeling of being gathered with friends, being told stories in the dark makes up for some frayed edges.
Svend-Erik Engh is the amiable host, welcoming the crowd in and encouraging the occasional howl from them in support of the stories, while Neil Sutcliffe provides the musical element, heaving and seething on the accordion and singing the various refrains in several languages throughout. The two are an entertainingly happy pair of bards, and their upbeat cheerfulness cuts through to the core of the experiences and imbues it with no shortage of warmth and charm.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan