A woman tries to reconnect with her mother through Irish folklore and gruesomely romantic tales in Tess Mc Manus’s one-woman show.
Should you see it?
Tales She Tells is a story about stories. Playing a young Irish woman, Tess Mc Manus weaves together fragments of her life and memories of her mother with Irish folk tales she loved when she was growing up. Once upon a time, all these tales seemed so romantic. Even now, as she questions their moral validity, this woman finds stories to be the only connection left to her mother.
Tess Mc Manus is an engaging performer who truly connects to her material. The tears welling up in her eyes during emotional moments made it easy to empathize with her character. The best parts of Tales She Tells were definitely those more personal moments directly related to the main character’s mother.
Mc Manus is at her best when actually performing elements in a story, instead of simply reciting. The tale of the Roisin Dubh suddenly becomes more engrossing when Mc Manus turns into the doomed woman rather than simply telling us about her fate. I do have a soft spot for gruesome fairy tales, but found the two other stories dragged a little because of too much telling and not enough showing.
Tales She Tells feels like a personal work performed very well. The narrative was well put together and I enjoyed the fairy tale twist at the end.
There’s a lot to like in Tales She Tells. Mc Manus can command laughs with a simple look. Her writing is able to adopt a lyrical quality. She’s able to emote and make you feel what she’s feeling with apparent ease.
Tales She Tells left me wanting more of all three.
The story of the Roisin Dubh was the strongest of those Mc Manus presented. It was a beautiful story and there were strong performance moments in it. Including a section at the end which was haunting and almost hypnotic. This was where Mc Manus was at her best.
Two other stories, however, are largely recited more than performed and feel the longer for it. In them, even lines where Mc Manus has adopted two different characters, are followed by he said/she saids, pulling you away from the performance. On top of long, they felt directionless.
The framing device Mc Manus uses for the stories, that of a young woman trying to reconnect with her mother through shared storytelling, allows Mc Manus to once again show her strengths and ability to make you feel for the character she’s presenting. There is unrealized potential that could yet be drawn out of it, but it still works very well as an emotional anchor for the show.
What did you think of Tales She Tells? Which Irish folk tale was your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!
For more information on Tales She Tells including show time and how to buy tickets, visit their show page on the Ottawa Fringe Festival website: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/tales-she-tells/