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Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘expertly delivered’

Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night. Photo: Graeme Braidwood Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night. Photo: Graeme Braidwood

Francesca Millican-Slater’s voice is as warm and smooth as a cat’s back. It’s a smoke-ring sort of a voice that she puts to superb use in Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night, an anthology of short tales purred talk-radio style into microphones.

Three moveable illuminated boxes stand on the stage and she uses them to illustrate her nocturnal offerings, her city vignettes. Each story is well-crafted and distinctive: a man spends his mornings walking, for he feels the world will end if he does not. Another man’s workplace prank in the pork-pie factory goes awry.

Millican-Slater is a strong speaker of her own words, wrapping her mouth around their hillocks and rhythms. Lekan Lawal’s production contains (just about) enough movement to stop this primarily auditory experience from feeling static and desk-bound.

Not all the stories tie themselves up neatly, but they do slot quite nicely in with one anther. Together they feel like little glimpses into lit windows and there’s a ‘Nightvale meets Nighthawks’ vibe to the show that is really appealing.

The only thing that’s slightly off is the early morning time slot. These tales would pair better, one suspects, with a single malt than an espresso.

Verdict
A series of atmospheric small stories expertly delivered
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