Drama, Comedy, Solo / 60 Minutes
Review By Devan Marr
Tales She Tells is a one woman show about a young woman coping with real world troubles by resorting to Irish folklore. Tess McManus, know from a previous Fringe appearance in Donkey Derby, plays our engaging main character. Moving around a minimal set consisting of a tree, block and river, she tells the audience tales of beautiful princesses, champion warriors, and malevolent kings. McManus explains that most Irish stories seem to have an unfortunate trend, everyone dies in the end and the king gets his way. It’s all rather tragic.
Of course, that’s the point. As McManus narrates the various fantasy stories, her character also explains her own story, a sick mother, a time of crisis, and her own questions about life. The stories no doubt are supposed to be a reflection of her character’s own struggles.
Tess McManus is an engaging actress with a lot of energy and an impressive ability to stay in accent over a 60 minute, mile a minute, narrative. She makes good use of lighting to balance the minimal set, and generally kept the piece moving. Unfortunately the script itself wasn’t overly moving. While the stories of damsels and champions were interesting, the piece as a whole didn’t really grab my attention.
Now, that could have been because the over air conditioned Academic Hall was trying to induce hypothermia, but I just couldn’t find myself getting engaged in the overall story. The main character’s actual story of loss seemed much more interesting than the fairy tales but unfortunately we don’t get to hear much of the details. I felt as if the piece could have done with one less fairy tale and a little more fleshing out on the background story.
But as I said, McManus herself was engaging, and with a few jokes interspersed among some of the more serious moments, she did a good job of keeping the audience entertained. The production is a good example of a strong performing needing material. The concept of Tales She Tells is really quite interesting, and the individual fairy tales are entertaining enough, but I just wasn’t able to get into the bigger picture.
Tales She Tells is still an entertaining show that’s worth seeing if you’ve got a penchant for Irish Folklore, engaging actresses, and some genuine chuckles.
Tales She Tells is playing at Venue 3-Academic Hall. The next show times are Friday, June 27 at 17:00, and Saturday, June 28, at 19:00.