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Holly Spanner, www.thepublicreviews.com
14/8/12
4.5 STARS

Salt. If you get it in a wound it stings. To taste, it’s sour, bitter and too much is overpowering.

A love like salt? Doesn’t sound very nice.

Storytelling is perhaps one of the oldest and most traditional art forms which influences so much of our daily lives without our even realising. From ancient aboriginal rock art to the great Roman amphitheatres, to a father reading his child a bed-time novel, storytelling is a proud tradition of the human race.

Upon entering the theatre, the stage is bare save five wooden chairs (usually four, however this performance was signed), two of which are attached with microphones. There are no props and the set is empty.

Daniel Morden is the conjuror for this production. Not of tricks, but of images and emotions, as he recounts a trio of thought-provoking fables with a certain assurance and mesmerising authority as he paces the stage. Setting the scenes under the superb direction of Sally Cookson, he leads us through to a pivotal moment in each story. There, he stops and moves on to the next. Revisiting the stories in the second act, the audience stay captivated from the outset and leave feeling fulfilled.

Based on existing works by Shakespeare and Chaucer, The Devils Violin Company have reinvented these classics in a way which has a hint of familiarity and subtle humour. Shakespeare’s King Lear for example, is beautifully merged with Cinderella in a clever twist to create a compelling tale of competition, banishment, despair, pity, forgiveness, redemption and love.

Musicians Sarah Moody (cello), Oliver Wilson-Dickson (violin) and Luke Carver Goss (accordion) add depth to the storytelling, enhancing the drama as the trio of stories unfold with their blend of Celtic, gypsy-folk music. They help to create visions of dancers, of angry waves upon a cliff, glowering skies, dark forests and the mighty kingdom of Camelot. Their music is so tightly woven throughout the script, that it makes the stories come alive. It is difficult to imagine one without the other.

Enchanting, wise and profound, The Devil’s Violin Company reinvent the magic and nostalgia of storytelling to the finest degree. They are certainly a company to watch out for.

Salt. Yes, it stings in a wound. Yes, it’s harsh to the taste. However, it can also add flavour, make a dish come alive and above all, is needed by all living creatures to survive.

A love like salt? Maybe it’s not so bad after all.