Incredible storytelling gig in Totnes on Friday, ‘The Bear, the Young Woman and the Soldier’s Heart’ written and performed by Olly Hurd-Thomas. What a fantastic power there is in telling a story! Actually it was a collection of linked stories – full of bears, choices, hearts, doubts, courage, romance, grit… A great format – a short contemporary story or poem to open each set, then a song (perfect choices – ‘The Queen & The Soldier’ (yeh!) and, most movingly and aptly, Billy Bragg’s ‘Tender Comrade’), then the main story of each half – mysterious, heart-brimming, irresistible tales of loss, heroism and redemption through love… Lost in the forest… A clearing… A bear… I felt I was almost in a world of Murakami (well, everything seems to remind me of Murakami at the moment!) – and of Grimm’s Fairy Tales… And something old but new… The first half’s main tale was actually Japanese – a wonderful folktale of The Pig Woman, absolutely brilliant in its pacing and suspense and structure – with a fantastic ending and punchline!!! Part of these stories’ appeal is a sense that you know them already, there’s a rhythm and pattern almost like a song with its chorus – but then the rhythm switches and you smile at being so wrong-footed… And you’re left with so much to think about later… “Go! You know what to do!” Each half concluded then with another song and a short coda. A really fabulous evening to share – I’m going to go along to the next storytellers’ meeting… Brilliant performance by Olly – it’s a lot to sustain over the course of an evening, this was a wonderful show.