Review: Blood and Gold at The Scottish Storytelling Centre

In the cosy setting of the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s Netherbow Theatre, Mara Menzies tells stories. Weaving together Scottish and Kenyan storytelling traditions in an enchanting blend of past and present, Menzies touches on contemporary themes such as colonialism, slavery and identity. 

The reliance on oral storytelling, with minimal sound effects and no props, means that the story is at times hard to follow, but Menzies keeps theatregoers engaged through amusing instances of audience participation. There are riddles, there is dancing, but above all, there is the story, a fairytale-like odyssey that takes us to the land of the dead and back again. 

Magic realism is embraced, with references to demons and malevolent shadows livening up the story. Despite references at the beginning to specific incidents relating to Edinburgh’s past – for instance, the murder of student Ahmed Sheik in the Grassmarket in 1989 – the performance exists for the most part in its own magical world, detached from grim reality. Menzies is an engaging and enthusiastic performer, occasionally putting on a strange voice for dramatic effect, although more use could have been made of this. Blood and Gold, despite its outwardly dark subject matter, is a family-friendly affair. It’s enjoyable, fun and different to a lot of other, more ‘traditional’ shows that are on during the Fringe.

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