Canterbury Tales (5 Stars)

Canterbury Tales (Erik de Waal)

Saskatoon Fringe Festival

5 Stars


A modern version of Canterbury Tales?  Set in the townships of South Africa??

Chaucer would be turning in his grave.  Turning…so he doesn’t miss a word of this clever and creative retelling of his tales.

Erik de Waal takes several of Chaucer’s tales and updates them for the modern audience. Chaucer was a courtier – a court poet who wrote exclusively for the nobility.  De Waal begins the show by portraying a local tour guide, recounting his tales for the rich tourists.  Any English literature buff would catch (and appreciate) the connection.

But even those who haven’t read a word of Chaucer will find de Waal’s Canterbury Tales a delight.  He is a master storyteller, and he completely draws the audience into these stories.  From the first moment he bursts onstage, with (borrowed?) shopping cart and striped robe, we were hooked.

The telling of each story is as varied as the stories themselves.  In one, de Waal is the character, recounting his tale first-hand.  In another, he uses small (and anatomically enhanced) puppets.  In another, he tells the story from a third-person perspective.  And then there’s that skeleton…  Just as impressive as de Waal’s storytelling skills are his varied South African accents (there are at least 5 different ones, each clearly distinct).

Everybody loves a good story.  And this combination of Chaucer and de Waal is magic.

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