FringeReview Scotland 2017
Partly woman, and at one with nature we get taken on a journey by Marie where we should avoid the moose and embrace the child with the hugging tree. The Scandinavian folklore of trees and roots surround us physically and in the spirit of our guide as Marie Stork speaks in Norwegian as well as English and through silence to tell an enchanting story of how a young girl found out how to take her steps away from the tree.
We are taken into the space individually by Stork and into a world of wood. In it, she is wearing a part wooden bodice and flowing brown dress, topped with bark in her hair to ensure we understand the marriage of the natural and the story, we settle on wooden blocks. From there we are introduced to concepts like backward hugging and being terrified of a charging moose until our wee girl, the heroine can take her first steps away from danger.
This begins very well as we are taken by the hand and helped into a very intimate space. In there the wooden seats are individually taken by each member of the audience before we have the story slowly unfold in front of us. Stork is an engaging presence and the beginning where we become a woodlands orchestra is brilliantly done. It augurs well.
When we begin to hear the story of this little girl walking backwards it feels half formed. Having hit the heights of audience participation I am a little less sure about the direction we are going with the story. When the moose appears, it confirms my suspicions that this may not continue well.
The moose’s participation in the story does not hold me, I am afraid, and with that interruption to the narrative, I begin to feel a little less enthusiastic. It felt like a story that was shoe horned into a concept until the ending, which was much better, rescued it.
Stork’s ideas regarding costume and physicality are particularly good and whilst I was not enamoured by the Moose’s activities, I could not argue over the authenticity of the representation.
The atmosphere, the use of the audience and how Stork works suggests a bright future. I am not aware of the Norwegian tale that she took inspiration from but I did not think the middle was the strongest part of the production – I am aware of similar types of children’s stories – The Mole Who Knew it was None of His Business but, I think Stork is better than the material and anyone who can take such risks – including when your tree falls over – and return fighting is worth a second look. I hope that if I manage to so do that it is with a little better material but would love to see more risks taken the next time.