Friday, 22 September 2017

REVIEW: Story Jam at Albany Theatre in Deptford

A teacher reminded me this week of how distracted we are, how so many things demand our attention from the moment we wake up to when we walk out the door and travel someplace. Story Jam, an event happening once a month until Christmas at the Albany Theatre Deptford and Canada Water Theatre, demands our total attention, as its performers take us through songs about stories and stories about songs. The attention that one storyteller receives is quite magical if you listen to how silent the room becomes, all while offering a fun, scary, surprising and sensual experience.

Our imaginations are also evolving in this new digital century: images are all around us and definitely inform how we imagine things. That is why I loved the amount of details that the storytellers gave us during their stories about faraway lands. From the smell of sheets to the noise that a branch makes, and from the beat of a heart to the image of a bloody hand, we are totally there. Performer Sarah Liisa Wilkinson, the first of the evening, was my favourite as she took us through a first story about womanhood in Romania, and then to Finland with a woman looking for her warrior son. The soothing element is that these stories end well.

I noticed that – and perhaps this is obvious – women like to write about women! I always like to hear and watch female bravery, and the two main characters Reid presented were just that. The second one, an underappreciated mother who frowned a lot, became very human thanks to the beautiful rhythm and humour that Reid offered.

The show then proceeded to telling the first part of a four-part story, ending with a cliff-hanger. The story took place in Asia, in a place “between Irak and China” where a couple tries to cover up a death. I’m afraid I don’t have the storyteller’s name, but she was also funny and discrete, letting the words slide off her tongue with speed.

Finally, the couple Tim and Rachel offered a slightly alternative atmosphere with acoustic guitar and singing. I admit I was at first distracted from Rachel Rose Reid’s words by the music during a very lyrical first story about a woman’s urge to sing in India. Then, as I got used to the marriage of the words and the music, their second story about whether there is justice in this world became quite meditative. 

Tim also offered sung stories about fatherhood, the only male perspective of the evening. I hear the headliner will be male at the next show, which makes me very curious! I suppose I have mostly witnessed female storytellers so far. 

Reid was very skilled and had a beautiful voice, but to me she was too expressive with her arms and hands. I believe I preferred the stillness of the first two performers, although Reid is very good at warming up a room and giving her soul to a piece.

This is craft that CANNOT die out! It is beautiful, peaceful, and necessary! I thought about its similarity to radio plays, but those oftentimes have multiple voices. When you only have one voice telling a complex story with heart, warmth and love, the experience is different, and I believe the brain receives the information in a unique way.

If you’ve been looking for something to take you away from your city’s chaos or want to open up your brain in new ways, I encourage you to join these Story Jams.

Review by Sophie Tergeist 

Rating: ★★★★
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