Corryvreckan is an unexpected gem. Nestled just off the Royal Mile in the intimate Netherbow Theatre, the captivating Fiona Herbert weaves the audience in a shroud of myth, imagination and music.
Having never experienced live storytelling before, I was unsure what to expect; prior to the start of the show, the audience were invited to switch off from the outside world and use our imaginations - an invitation warmly accepted by all.
Herbert tells first of a chance encounter with Richard Blair, son of George Orwell, when on a boat trip to the Corryvreckan whirlpool, just off the west coast of Scotland, and how this prompted her to fashion a retelling of the plethora of myths that surround it.
For an audience member approaching the piece with no prior knowledge of the surrounding mythology of Corryvreckan, I feel some context for a number of the tales would have increased their value and allowed the audience to better follow their train. This, however, is not to the discredit of Herbert, who capably creates a range of characters with her body and voice, complemented by imaginative and poetic language. Her retelling places a decidedly witty and female twist on myths which seem to favour the male perspective in their original form; thankfully, however, this never feels overworked or forced, as retellings of folk tales often risk falling into.
One of the highlights was the final tale of the Kelpie and his entrapment of various mortals in Corryvreckan; this section seemed the most polished and was accompanied by the most accomplished lighting and sound offered by the production. Overall, more regular and uniform use of lighting and sound would have added the depth and drama which this final tale achieved, but there was a pleasing use of tech for a production of this kind.
The musical accompaniment provided by Sarah McFadgen was hypnotic in its beauty. She played gently on the violin as we entered the auditorium and added moments of light and shade to the tales with her accompaniment, captivating the audience with her renditions of folk ballads, which truly help bring the tales to life in the mind. I only wish there had been more of it.
If live storytelling sounds intimidating, or odd, I can only say this: go and try it for yourselves. Expect to be challenged and to use your imagination but the result can be captivating and you may surprise yourself.
Part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2019 (18 October - 31 October).