The Rotting Hart
Produced by Crested Fools in collaboration with Fronteiras Theatre Lab
Written and performed by Daniel Orejon
Directed by Flavia D’Avila
The Scottish Storytelling Centre
Duration: 60 minutes
The Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh not only has enviable facilities but during the Fringe, it programmes diverse storytelling theatre. ‘The Rotting Hart’ with its stag image, is not a Scottish tale, but a macabre story from Spain.
Written and performed with great skill by Daniel Orejon, mostly in English. The year could be any he tells us from 693 to 2005, but it is definitely posited in our more medieval imagination.
An illiterate young man has lived with his father in a remote region, in the shadows of an abandoned monastery that is full of secrets. A young stranger (Diego) comes to the door and is welcomed in by the Father and their lives change, stories unfold, dark happenings occur and transformations between the hunted animal and the ignorant human unfurl.
Orejon is a fine storyteller. His capacity to create characters is powerful, he draws you in with a performance and a plot that makes you wish, more would engage with real story-telling in these modern times. D’Avila’s direction is in harmony with the text and it helps us move from empathy to chilling effect, allowing our own imaginations to add to the wonders conjured up in the passionately delivered text.
The role of Diego is familiar in some Irish folk tales of the visitor who changes into something else. We are given (a very small print) handout to translate the few passages in Spanish, which mainly outlaw homosexual acts over the centuries from the 7th century through to the Middle Ages to the modern day.
The graphic imagery of man as hunter, prey and sacrifice is told with great impact and effect in a story that leaves you thinking and imagining what lives were like then and how they resonate today. This is a tale of isolation and encounter, finely portrayed, that left all in the audience a little unsettled but well impressed. An accomplished collaboration of storytelling as it should be...gripping.