Hector Hugo Munro, otherwise known as Saki, was a soldier in the trenches of WW1 – but he was a writer, too. Atticist’s performance of Life According To Saki offers the chance to escape from the reality of war and delve into stories of romance, religion and death. And from his tales about hyenas to observations on love, I enjoyed the experience from start to finish.
Brought to life by Katherine Rundell’s script, Saki’s stories made for an intriguing 70 minutes. The diversity in the narratives is a tremendous strength – each has an underlying message, but no two are alike – and the variety in his writing offers many opportunities for creative theatre. Sredni Vashtar was a favourite of mine for this reason, mainly because the puppetry involved brought a child-like innocence to the tale. The whole production of it, from the lighting to the voice acting, contributed towards a great intensity.
In the process of telling the tales, the cast bring numerous characters to life. David Paisley does a fabulous job playing Saki as he narrates and introduces the series of stories, becoming a very likable character with a satirical personality. I enjoyed the different ways the cast bring to life the individual tales, not just through acting, but with puppets, projections on a screen, various props and more. Many parts had me laughing at the eccentric personalities portrayed, and I was impressed at how versatile the actors were at personifying so many lives on stage – each with their own quirks and voices.
A sense of reality sets in at the end, as we’re brought back to the trenches, and there’s more opportunity to see how Saki influenced those around him. Much of his personality shines through his stories, but as H.H Munro lost his life at war, this return to the real world was touching and fitting finish to the show.
Life According to Saki was a show I didn’t want to end – a true delight to watch. There was a story for everyone, and the show as a whole stands as a creative and entertaining adaption in memory of a great writer. With a fantastic cast and charming use of puppetry, it’s one I would happily watch again.