Thinking about who has lived in our house before us leads us to a slew of questions. What were they like? Were they happy here? Why did they leave? Is a part of them, could a part of them still be here? And it is on this premise that Lund theatre group bases Stories, Told. A house tells the tales of its previous occupants; he (the house) is old and crumbling, and has gathered dust on his shelves, which creak under the weight of stories left behind.
There are many actors in the play. We see eighteenth-century gentlemen, who hunt and fight in the war and are dismissive of their women; people of the rock 'n' roll 1960s with their flower-power shirts; a modern-day couple and their friend. The variety of characters and the quality of the acting is good, and the changing music also contributes well to the era that is being projected.
Funny moments are portrayed well, as is the nature of each character's personality and their mannerisms. The set is interesting, with panels with words on them that function as walls, and move around the stage to create the illusion of various rooms. 'House' himself wears a suit with the same pattern as the words on the walls – a genius touch! – and the actor seems very comfortable in the character of the not-so-inanimate building, complete with the gamut of emotions, excitement, fears.
What disappointed me were the stories themselves. Although the intention was clearly to reflect commonplace life, they could have been much engaging. Although the stories are billed as paranormal, they were not scary, and they certainly did not qualify for horror. Towards the end, the audience figures out why this is – but until then, I was mostly waiting for an anticipated exciting climax to arrive.
There are interesting historical notes, of course, surrounding the old-fashioned gentlemen and the sixties troupe. And I liked the concept – it was a little like reading Philip Larkin. Overall though, while the ordinary is what keeps the world going, the production lacked a certain punch I have come to expect from this year's Fringe.