Young performers pull it out of bag

Review by Andrew Hemsley: The Storybag - Stables Youth Theatre, The Stables Theatre and Arts Centre, The Bourne.

A TALENTED young cast delved deep into the bottomless bag of myth and folk tales to retrieve some real gems.

The archetypal message of these stories is timeless yet the energy and exuberance with which they were presented emphasised their continuing relevance to the human condition.

Here was love and loss, transformation and ingenuity.

If there was a unifying theme to the tales it was that of man (mostly woman) beating the devil at his own game and tricking him.

One tale, portrayed as a lively song, saw the devil abducting a farmer’s wife only for him to return her when the nagging became too much. It had the coda: “That’s why a woman is smarter than men, as she’s been to hell and back again.”

The stage was dominated by a giant open book with colourful illuminated letters, but more than just providing a dramatic back-drop, the book was central to the performance, providing an extra vertical stage. Cast members rose dramatically from behind it and even abseiled down the pages.

A strong point of the performance was the way in which the young performers worked so hard for each other to create a cohesive whole. A number of bodies were able to morph themselves into a giant tree in the blink of an eye.

The cast kept up a relentless, energetic pace and the stories segued effortlessly into each other without ever becoming confusing. Costume changes were seamless.

This was a fine showcase for the formidable young talent we have, who were given free rein to express themselves thanks to the imaginative stage direction of Maureen Nelson and her team.