Image description: Three people are dressed in black, and stand in front of a red brick wall. The person on the left looks at his phone in consternation; the person in the middle holds a glass of wine, and looks pensively into the distance; and the person on right smokes a cigarette and wears pink fairy wings.


By Elaine Hanlon // @elainehanlonart


Touted as bedtime stories for grown-ups, FairyFales presents tales of myth and legend that are, in turns, saucy, gory, moving and just plain fun. Presented by five Western Australians from the Modicum Theatre (Leigh Fitzpatrick, Beck Thorman, Courtney Maldo, Jamie Cook and Felix Camponovo), this is the company’s third year at FRINGE WORLD Festival, previously delivering classics like Hansel and Gretel (2019) and Midsummers Dreams (2020).


FairyFales brilliantly draws together stories from different realms, cultures, places, and times; in one hour, we traversed the world – from Australia to continental Europe, the British Isles, Alaska and Japan As the show I saw was on Valentine’s Eve, the story-tellers wove in tales of love, jealousy and betrayal.


As you would expect from any good myth, there were monsters and witches aplenty, and a never-ending supply of vindictive stabby folk. And of course, a collection of fables would not be complete without a sprinkling of inventively horrific torture; maggots are bad enough, but after hearing this, you’ll never want to pee in the bushes again.


Some of the storytellers were born entertainers; Jamie Cook’s panache and his animated, whole-of-body performance were a standout. Others let the beauty and honesty of their story speak for itself. Beck Thorman’s account of the relationship between the Moodjar tree (Western Australian Christmas tree) and Kurannup, where the Noongar spirits of the dead come to rest, was both touching and enlightening.


I was excited about this refreshing new concept, a bold attempt at something original. Sadly, however, I felt there something was missing on the evening. Perhaps it was the choice of stories, which – like large swathes of mythology – don’t always have a well-defined point or moral. Some rambled and featured seemingly-unrelated interjections, while others ended abruptly without closure.


Maybe it is unfair to expect ancient stories to contain contemporary structure and flow; my disappointment may simply reflect the unfortunate fact that, told in their original form, some tales of old are just not as entertaining to a modern audience. The storytellers did embellish the stories nicely with humour, a smattering of modern references and a lot of well-timed swearing. But in the end, it was not quite enough to pull us whole-heartedly into the stories. Some tighter curation and more attention to the pace and structure of the narrative would go a long way.


Modicum Theatre is a production company worth keeping an eye on. I look forward to seeing more from them and hope that over time, they can find the right balance to bring these legendary stories back to the masses.


Fairy Fales ran until the 14th of February.


Three tall tales out of five.


Elaine realises that not every teller of a story is a story teller.


Image courtesy of FRINGE WORLD Festival


Woodside Petroleum is a principal sponsor of FRINGE WORLD Festival. Pelican has been a long-time supporter of the Festival, and will continue to show its support. However, the Magazine feels it is unethical for Woodside Petroleum to remain a principal sponsor of FRINGE WORLD, given the current climate emergency, and Woodside’s ongoing contribution to climate change.


Other Festivals have demonstrated that ethical sources of funding are possible – you can read more, and sign the petition, here: // #fossilfreefringe #fossilfreearts // Arts and Cultural Workers for Climate Action