Wee Seals and Selkies

Aug 11 2023 | By More

★★★★☆      Gentle storytelling

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30): Fri 4 – Sun 27 Aug 2023
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

Based on two of her popular books, Janis Mackay’s Wee Seals and Selkies at the Scottish Storytelling Centre is a sweet 50-minute show that includes magical Scottish tales of nature and friendship.

Suitable for all the family, it is a semi-autobiographical piece in which Mackay details her journey as a writer relocating to a seaside cottage in the North of Scotland for six months. By simply packing her suitcase, she takes the audience on the journey, explains how the surroundings inspired her to write The Selkie Girl and The Wee Seal and tells the short stories.

Janis Mackay and Donald Scott in Wee Seals and Selkies. Pic Suzanne O’Brien

And who better to tell these stories than the author herself? Mackay is a highly animated storyteller who not only helps the audience to visualise the story through her succinct descriptive language but also makes them feel like they are there experiencing it.

Whether she is down by the shore flying kites with a selkie in its human form or witnessing a miracle of nature, the audience are with her every step of the way. At times she gets quite physical and as she talks of the seal pup who turns up unexpectedly in her garden, she isn’t afraid to get down on the ground and move like a seal.

A fiddle, sea shanties and various sound effects are played and performed by Donald Scott, accompany the storytelling. Scott also takes on the role of a fisherman and a sea captain, with simple outfit changes that all work to enhance Mackay’s story.

audience interaction

Small bits of audience interaction are incorporated naturally and at no point feel forced, which is probably why the audience – both children and adults – are so willing to engage. They are encouraged to create waves and the sounds of a torrential storm and are even taught how to guddle (catch) fish.

The mix of storytelling, music and audience engagement make for a short and entertaining show, perfect for a driech morning.

Running time: 50 minutes (no interval)
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Netherbow Theatre), 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR (Venue 30)
Friday 4 – Sunday 27 Aug (not 9, 14-18, 21-25)
Daily at 11am (not 9, 14-18, 21-25)
Tickets and details: Book here.

Janis Mackay links

Twitter: @janismackay

Website: https://www.janismackay.com


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