Once Upon a Something

6 October, The Eastbourne, Hastings
Fringe in the ‘Stings 2017

It’s what George Fenn dryly calls the “start of the show”, a unique, never to be repeated, impromptu performance about to be created with and for us. The gentle spadework has been done, our entertainers have chatted comfortably with audience: half and half, children and caregivers. This is for them.

With applause-loving Aaron’s delightful guitar improvisation throughout, George Fenn, and cohorts Sam and Elaine, invite us to think of story. Story that is also adventure, adventure with sneaking. They sneak convincingly.

Our first story comes from Red Riding Hood. Impressively Sam remembers and teases out each child’s name. A jumble of fairy tales is thrown into the mix. Elaine insists it’s about a girl who wants to sleep all the time; Sam says she has very long hair, but suddenly a little guy in the front row is on fire, if his imagination was fire works he could not have been more vibrantly engaged. He wants it to be all about the Wolf! What?

Our troupe loves it, immediately weaving these threads. A rather dim Wolf appears and we are off on an interactive journey through a forest of arm-waving trees, Triceratops chases and Granny’s gift of perfume sprayed liberally on the Wolf who smells like a wet dog. In short, Red and the Wolf open a forest walking business together and live happily ever after.

Story two’s wolf belongs to the Three Little Pigs. A bawling Wolf returns home having had his butt set on fire. Who could have done this terrible thing? His mother makes him sit in ice and draws the story from him:

He’s been to visit his friends. First friend has foolishly built a house of straw with no structural integrity. What would a true friend do? Of course, demonstrate the peril… “He huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down!” But the friend was not happy and ran away… Likewise friend number two used unsafe driftwood. Once again this conscientious Wolf showed him his folly but still not an oink of gratitude. And the third time poor Wolf tried to help, they set his bottom on fire!

Wise Mother Wolf suggests gifts are needed to cheer up his piggy friends and once again the children call out what’s needed: a million-dollar house with a jacuzzi that’s also a lift, nine times bigger, grown from Jack’s beanstalk seeds and all the cows in the South Island, paid for by the Giant’s hen who lays golden eggs (it takes her six months to lay enough) … the list goes on! It’s a breathless ride, mind boggling and punctuated by impish giggles. Grand Design comes to interview the wolf’s ambitious project.

What happened in the end? There is no end to this type of creative storytelling that calls on the inventiveness and wit of childhood. George, Sam and Elaine light the wick of Story, then catch, splice and twist the sparks into a rollicking yarn with incredible mental agility. We have had two one-and-only stories, and a huge amount of fun, now that’s a happy ending, for now. Same time, same place tomorrow!


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