I Wish I Was A Mountain

It's appropriate that this particular production within the 2019 Edinburgh International Children's Festival is the only one slotted into the schedule for the Netherbow stage within the Scottish Storytelling Centre. For the most part, this is a story that's told rather than shown, with the staging there simply to support writer and performer, Toby Thompson (a former Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion) in the telling—often in obvious ways, but sometimes by a more circumspect approach!

A fairytale about wishes and the extent to which we should always be wary about what we want - just in case we’re lucky enough to get it.

I Wish I Was a Mountain is adapted by Thompson from Faldum, a fairytale (Although it features neither fairies, nor princes, nor princesses.) by the Nobel Prize-winning author, Hermann Hesse. Thompson presents it in a way that both personalises the story to him, and opens it up to his audience. He may come across as a gentle, slightly gauche man on stage, but there’s a subtle beauty to both just the story and the way it’s told, that holds your attention. Director Lee Lyford is to be congratulated for the dramatic focus he instils into the show.

The show is filled with music and surprisingly effective mechanics, from a pop-up book to a series of model houses revealed one inside the other like Russian dolls. Anisha Field's set proves to be an effective backdrop, while lighting designer, George Seal, and sound designer, Jonathan Everett, make strong contributions to the overall tone. Nevertheless, it's the script that's most important. Significantly, Thompson often reminds us that the inhabitants of this particular fairytale are just like us, albeit without Facebook. (“Just faces. And books”). Just like him, too, slightly nervous, but wanting to please and be happy.

I Wish I Was a Mountain is a fairytale about wishes and the extent to which we should always be wary about what we want - just in case we’re lucky enough to get it. In some respects, it's an oddly structured story, and Thompson works hard to soften the blow of the final quarter, during which millennia pass. Ultimately though, the story is an enchanting exploration of desire and possessing, and how once we've got something, we don't always want it anymore.

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn


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The Blurb

On the day of the famous annual fair, the town of Faldum receives an unexpected visit. A wanderer offers to grant a wish to anyone who wants one. Before long, the city is transformed. Mansions stand where mud huts once squatted, and beggars ride around in horse drawn carriages. And one man wishes to be turned into a mountain. Written and performed by former Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion Toby Thompson, I Wish I was a Mountain uses rhyme, live music, and just a smattering of metaphysical philosophy to boldly reimagine Herman Hesse’s classic fairytale. Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Imaginate; part of the Edinburgh International Children's Festival.

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