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Review of Open Mic Story Night at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

CRICK!
CRACK!
CRICK!
CRACK!

However enough about my back problems. If you are sitting comfortably (well one of us needs to be), then I shall begin.

On a fair and splendid evening in the month of Februarius, the hero of our story took a trip to the theatre in a beautiful pea green coat.
His destination did hold many tales so bold, from storytellers both young and old.
Beneath the Derngate there lays a space they call the underground.

This is no Piccalilli or Paddington silly, there are no trains here to behold.
On this day the space was filled with tables and chairs that lay quite scattered around.
Little tea lights glittered upon each table while a waitress wandered around.

The Open Mic Story Night was an opportunity for keen individuals to get up in front of the mic (there was no mic!) and have a go at storytelling. My first experience of storytelling as an art form had come just a month earlier with Fairytales For Grown Ups and it has been a fascinating experience. On this night we had five performances from six people (one of which is a professional storyteller, Jo Blake Cave).

The quality and indeed length varied. We had the snappy Mother Nature's Natural Disasters performed by Brett Bradshaw (with guitar), which personally didn't do anything for me. However was over so quickly it mattered not. Then there was the perhaps over long Harper & Queen from Richard & Elizabeth York, which included songs and music (in a style far from my taste, so this made is awkward from me). However if the old traditional music is you bag I am sure there was much to enjoy. The story itself was clever and well told and very much in the old style storytelling tradition.

Slightly more modern was The Little Prince performed by Jenny Styles. I had seen Jenny twice previously in Killed and The Odyssey (which had been co-directed by Jo Blake Cave), so knew that there was the chance that this might a little more acty. I wasn't wrong as it was the best performed of the evening and was a sharp and funny adaption of a story by Antoine De Saint Exupery.

The most modern tale however, and my favourite came from Susan Martin. Entitled Typecast is told a tale of woe of a girl who loved teddy bears. Well she didn't and what evolved was a rather wonderful tale littered with every possible bear pun you could imagine. It was quality throughout and just the perfect length as well.

The final part of the evening laid in the hands of professional "Hello Mr Bank Manager" storyteller Jo Blake Cave and her "work in progress". She presented us with a small collection of stories that will eventually make up a complete show about part history of storytelling and tellers and part autobiographical. What was presented was a pleasant measure of what is to come and Jo related personal landmark moments including seeing the godly Jim Henson's television series The Storyteller, and a stolen tale of a green blouse. It was all very good and finished an interesting evening.

So A Small Mind rose up from his chair while gathering up his thoughts.
There was no wee upon his leg (you had to be there), and he headed home to bed.


Performance reviewed: Saturday 28th February, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton.

Open Mic Story Night was a one-off event, details of any further events at Royal & Derngate can be found by visiting their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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