Blood And Gold

August 15, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆     Mythic

Royal Lyceum Theatre Studio (Venue 549): Thur 11 – Sun 28 Aug 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Lyceum has given us another chance to revel in Blood and Gold. Kenyan/Scottish storyteller Mara Menzies’s interlinked set of stories fuses myth, fantasy and personal experience, exploring the legacy of colonialism and the shadows that inhabit our personal and collective lives.

There were times, of course, when we all wondered if there would ever be chances to see things like this again. Since it was first at the Fringe in 2019, this show has become a novel. While that is all well and good, it isn’t really a substitute for the real thing – for stories told by someone who really knows what they are doing, for the shared experience of invention and truth.

Blood and Gold -Mara Menzies. Pic: Robin Mair

Any worries that the high-ceilinged, relatively sanitised space of the Lyceum Studio would work against Menzies are immediately dispelled. Soon she is weaving her wonderfully constructed set of interlinked tales; stories of doubt and self-possession, stories of joy and heartbreak, stories of personal triumph and family tragedy.

Stories, too, that force us to look at ourselves – Scotland’s historical links with the slave trade and with colonial exploitation, more recent racial intolerance and murders, the ‘hostile environment’ that continues to exist towards those we have dispossessed.

a gloriously fulfilling celebration

Not that this is dry, or ultimately a completely worrying experience. On the contrary, it is a gloriously fulfilling celebration of shared humanity and love. It is undoubtedly enhanced by the peerless way that Menzies elicits suggestions and contributions from an audience who, however diffident they may be, are soon enthralled.

The direction of Isla Menzies and Francisca Da Silveira’s dramaturgy must be commended for their part in a performance that is so well thought out and polished that it seems entirely natural.

A word, too, for Dave House’s beautifully apposite sound design, and the lighting and sound operation of Joey Crouch.

Legends and myths survive not just because of the archetypes they embody but because of the effect they have on us. This can help us, Menzies implores, if we ‘listen’.

If only it was as easy as that sounds. Productions like this, however, give us hope it is possible.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Royal Lyceum Theatre Studio, Grindlay St, EH9 3AX (Venue 549)
Thursday 11 – Sunday 28 August 2022
Daily (not Mon or Tue) at 8.15 pm
Information and tickets: Book here.

Lyceum website: https://lyceum.org.uk
Artist website: https://www.marathestoryteller.com
Facebook: @MaratheStoryteller
Twitter: @marastoryteller.

ENDS

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