Scottish-Kenyan storyteller Mara Menzies has constructed a beautifully weighted set of nested stories for contemporary times, revealing them with a commanding sense of spontaneity.
Menzies’ craft, as both an actor and a storyteller, shines through in a captivating performance for an adult audience, built around the tale of a dying mother who creates a box of stories for her daughter to listen to when she is mature enough to understand their importance.
On stage Menzies is light and shadow, not just telling stories, but taking on the personas of her characters as she uses both her Scottish and Kenyan cultural identities to put the legacy of colonialism into a fictitious but personal and local Edinburgh setting. These are tales of light and shadow, too, with Maria Macdonald’s lighting subtly altering the colour spectrum to highlight the difference between our world and the world of shadows from where hate and fear creep from the twilight into the mainstream.
It is hard to address issues of racism in contemporary culture or confront Scotland’s history as a slave-owning colonial nation, but Menzies does so in a way that is subtle and, potentially, transformative. This is a must-see show, but never more so than for those who have power to wield.