Tall Tales Oscars, SSC, Edinburgh
**** (4 stars)
Tonight I got to vote at the Oscars! No, not the Hollywood ones – nothing so common… Each year the Scottish Storytelling Centre hosts the Tall Tales Oscars, when storytellers compete to tell the tallest tale and win the coveted trophy – Oscar the very long-nosed garden gnome.
Our host this evening was last year’s winner, Jack Martin, who introduced us to the storytellers and explained how the evening would work. Four stories, an interval, four more stories, and then a 20-second snippet of each story to assist our deliberations. We could give marks out of 10 to each contestant, and then pick our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. The Bell would ringl when 9 of the allotted 10 minutes were up: when the 10th had elapsed the contestant had to stop whether or not their tale was finished.
Escaping from a dismally rainy Edinburgh, we heard strange tales and met some extraordinary people. One man met some of the Wee Folk while out photographing frosted grass in Holyrood Park, while another told of his friend Wullie’s unfortunate encounter with the polis and a flock of swans on St Mary’s Loch. We learned how dieting attempts to prepare for knee replacement surgery could land you in Barlinnie, how a man discovered he could become invisible when his wife became pregnant, and heard from his wife the true tale of how she became pregnant… We heard the unexpected way a man’s great-grandfather became the smith in a village in Galloway, and how a snowbound youth foiled his attempted abduction by a ghostly Scottish Widows lookalike with a most unusual light sabre. The final tale revealed the hitherto unexpected potential of the microwave in assisting childless women to have instant family.
Each storyteller had their own style and delivery: some were very new to storytelling, and some were old hands. Almost everyone managed to finish their story, though some went right to the wire. There were lots of laughs – sympathetic ones from the audience for the new father recounting his encounters with the varying colours and textures of his daughter’s poos and delighted ones at the challenges of the dieting ‘club’ – and some wonderful turns of phrase, my favourites being “my hopes had not yet been thwarted on the rocks of disappointment” and “if you’re pregnant no-one mentions your disability because it means admitting that disabled people have sex”…
We laughed, we cried, we clapped and cheered, and completely forgot the dismal weather outside. At the end of the evening our voting papers were collected and collated while our host, Jack Martin, kept us entertained with some of his own stories: the final one about his twenty-first birthday encounter with Marilyn Monroe and the unseen but essential part he got to play in The Seven Year Itch demonstrated exactly why he won last year! The winner’s names were then read out from the gold card in the yellow envelope: Rona Barbour’s diet-rage tale put her in third place, James Spence’s light sabre of pish placed him second, and the incredible Su Caledonia took the Oscar with her heart-warming tale of finally fulfilling her mother’s ambitions for her by producing not one, not two, but THREE newborn girls in her microwave.
It was a great evening – way more fun than the ‘real’ Oscars could ever be – and the sell-out crowd showed their appreciation with cheers and prolonged applause. The event was streamed live on Facebook: but it was way more fun to be there in person: make a note in your diaries for next year and don’t miss Tall Tales Oscars 2019
Tall Tales Oscars, SSC, Edinburgh – Run Ended.
Review by Mary Woodward.