The latest production from Lion House Theatre is a visually pleasing experience, executed with dexterity and grace by a cast of three. As we are informed by our narrator and writer Casey Jay Andrews, "this story starts, and ends, with a girl, a boy and a wolf”. What happens in the middle, however, is not always clear.
A precious moment of theatre, successful in casting the magical spell of storytelling and highly enjoyable to watch
The small set itself is a delight of intricate detail; the interior of a wooden mountain cabin is brought charmingly to life, with a window that doubles as a screen for real-time projections taking place throughout the story. This is the cabin in which Gilly (played by Sullivan Beau Brown) spends all of his days, and where he soon plays unwelcome host to stranded traveller Jessie (Tom Coliandris). Using a small selection of props, the pair embark on an adventure together that pulls Gilly further and further away from his shelter and reveals the darker reasons behind his aversion to local village life.
The interplay between this slowly developing friendship and the narrator’s expository comments is an example of how well this production weaves itself together. Coliandris’ Jessie is a balance of naivety and recklessness to Brown’s stoic and reclusive Gilly, where one blithe question provokes a wave of feeling that, whilst not communicated between the two, we can experience as an audience through Andrews’ narrative insight. Andrews times her asides with peak precision, saying what sometimes cannot be said to both comic and poignant effect.
The two projectors used to overlap a multitude of images and shadows onto the cabin window create a dreamlike, nostalgic effect, reminiscent of stories told around a campfire. These images are pivotal in exploring the past alongside the present, the two storylines eventually intertwining with each other.
Whilst there are links to be made with traditional folklore - the Ghillie Dhu is a male faerie said to be found in Scottish Highlands, whilst the wolf has long been a spirit animal in legends around the world - I thought that these aspects of the narrative could have been made clearer, given their bearing on the direction of the story. As events progressed, they required a greater and greater suspension of disbelief, which created a disconnect with the fairly ordinary modern world that had been established at the opening of the production. The pacing didn’t quite seem to sit right, and had me struggling to arrive with them at the conclusion, which I would have very much liked as I was completely invested in the story they had woven between them.
Ultimately this is a precious moment of theatre, successful in casting the magical spell of storytelling and highly enjoyable to watch on a rainy Edinburgh afternoon.