If everyone has a story to tell, one that’s worth listening to, then why is it that the only stories that shift copies off shelves and set Twitter alight are the births, marriages and deaths of the rich and the famous? As part of Grant’s True Tales, Spark London have come to Edinburgh to question a celebrity obsessed era that only wants to hear one type of tale and to deliver an important alternative: a tight and beautifully told ten minute story written and performed by the person it’s about.
It’s a flawless story telling format that took this very reviewer from her seat at Riddles Court to every corner of the globe in just under an hour, transported by voices from every age and every background. I began in post war Hungary, travelled through a Countdown obsessed Britain, en route Cardiff’s Taff River, before crash landing on a Caribbean island.
The stories were funny, elegant, and articulate and each one threw a light on a life previously unknown. You might enjoy one more than another, speaking for myself stories regarding childhood pets are usually lost on me, but they’re all worth a listen.
Each tale is delivered like a carefully gift wrapped package which has dropped unexpectedly onto your doormat. The stories are carefully crafted but not contrived for the sake of performance and because each one is so personal, the performer cares about how it reaches you.
Riddles Court provides an enchanting setting for the course of the evening. A story telling mood is set from the moment you walk into the tree lined courtyard, a short story suspended from each leaf and written by the pens placed in front of you.
Yes, the storytelling is interactive but in an utterly charming and inoffensive way. Depending on the theme of each evening - mine was family - you will be asked to impart just a few lines based on your own colourful personal history. A few good ones are selected to read out in an interlude between the performers who have already mastered the art. Each of these few short lines proved to be performance worthy and persuaded people to believe that, in the space of their own memory, a treasure chest full of “ordinary” stories are waiting to be cracked open.
If you fancy dusting off any stories yourself, Spark are holding a 24 hour Storyathon and workshops to support the shakier storyteller before they perform.
Spark London should not just be stumbled on; they should be booked in advance and seats should be taken with anticipation.