The Illusion of Truth

How far would you go to achieve your heart’s desire? Would you risk your home? Your livelihood? Your family? The Illusion of Truth is a project inspired by tales of the Orishas, a collection of deities from Western Nigeria’s Ifa faith. For the duration of an hour, writer and performer Mara Menzies guides us on a journey from a snug conference room at the heart of Edinburgh’s Scottish Storytelling Centre, to the colourful, lively, and occasionally treacherous world of the Orishas.

Though the stories of the Orishas may have begun many thousands of kilometers away, they feel right at home here

Dressed in white and gold (splendid costuming and hair by Ari Liakeas and Jennifer Ba), Menzies introduces us to Ochosi, a gifted young hunter who wishes to be something more. Ochosi wants to join the ranks of the Orishas, but first he must perform a difficult task.

The path is a well-trodden one in traditional myth and fairytale: desire becomes pride, and pride turns to tragedy, but Menzies brings new flair to a familiar archetype, leaving the audience awaiting every twist and turn. Using props and items of costume placed around the room, our narrator transforms herself into a host of characters, humans and deities alike. Menzies is a consummate storyteller; her mastery of voice and movement, paired with a rich and winding text, makes for a very impressive performance.

Audience interaction is a tricky beast, but Menzies puts her listeners (who at my performance ranged from ages 8 to 80) at ease, eliciting warm laughter and rapt silence as her story twists and turns to its tragic conclusion. Though the stories of the Orishas may have begun many thousands of kilometers away, they feel right at home here. The figures of Ifa legend are conjured before us, impossibly ancient and terribly modern. What The Illusion of Truth does best is make us feel that we are are entering a sacred, magical space, where there is something of value to be found for listeners of all ages.

Reviews by Alice Markey

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★★★★
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★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Enter a world where Gods feast, dance and wander through forests. Reaching into the pantheon of African Orishas (Yoruban mythology), performance storyteller Mara Menzies explores our relationship with truth, intention and powerlessness wrapped in the thin cloak of power. How does society control its decision-making when exposed to so many alternative facts? A young man obsessed with joining the ranks of deities, seizes an opportunity to appease himself to the Gods. An innocent misunderstanding leads to disastrous consequences when seemingly justifiable actions are taken without full knowledge of the facts. ‘Spellbinding’ (EdinburghGuide.com).

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