In an intimate room at the top of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, on the frenzied Royal Mile, yet worlds away, one can join storyteller Dougie Mackay for an hour of captivating tales, myths and legends. Armed only with a drum, a handful of props, and his stories, Mackay pulls you out of the 21st century and into a world of highland chieftains, Norse gods and magic.
With a mixture of Kipling-esque origin stories, fantastical history and uplifting folk stories, this show is guaranteed to offer something to everyone. Mackay varies the stories told every day, seemingly able to choose which stories he will be telling with effortless ease. The easy confidence with which Mackay relates his tales shows what a consummate performer he is. Aside from the occasional word slip, the storytelling is sharp, confident and engaging. Above that, he injects gentle humour into the stories with precision and skill. As a result, is a beautifully well-paced experience. Mackay’s style of storytelling hooks the audience from the first sentence and does not let go: no mean feat without the hosts of special effects many mythical reimaginings now use.
Mackay’s use of props is thus remarkable. He uses the simplest sounds to great imaginative effect: from the rhythmic beat of a drum signifying a horseback ride through the highlands, to a rainstick creating the effect of the sea lapping on a pebble beach. Special note should also be given to the way Mackay interacts with the audience. He draws us into his tales without it ever feeling forced or unwanted.
Witches, Wee Folk and Watery Beasties is a great experience for adults and older children alike, a hidden gem at the heart of the Fringe, and a welcome respite from the madding crowds outside.
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