Written by Mara Menzies
Directed by Isla Menzies
In 2019, Scottish-Kenyan creative Mara Menzies’ pure artistry debuted at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Weaving a brightly shining tapestry of storytelling narrative, Menzies draws on her Scottish and Kenyan heritage, threading together ancient mythology with a contemporary narrative and understanding of Scotland’s continued ignorance of its history and profit from colonialism and the slave trade.
In 2022, it returns, this time to the Lyceum Theatre. Menzies continues to guide audiences on this tale many would prefer to ignore, and in doing so fail to recognise the continued relevance in Blood and Gold and struggle to appreciate its humble beauty.
A dying mother does precisely what any other would in any fable; summoning her daughter and bestowing her with three clues to a valuable source of treasure. Generational, Blood and Gold feels evolved and developed as if the story itself had been the narrative passed down. An infusion of physicality in Menzies’ movements enriches the experience, choreographed to offer a flowing sense of motion to aspects of the script – particular the spoken word instances. There are joy radiating, refreshing instances of humour, and once in a while, truth is unearthed, and the innocence makes way for something dark.
A Shadow Man, laced with the allegory and representation of colonialism, but more, of the manipulative tactics and systemic destruction which sit at the foundations of Scottish, British, and Western civilization. Its message is critical, enduring, and frustratingly as poignant, if not more so than it was in 2019. Menzies is a masterful storyteller, but Blood and Gold goes beyond the typical expectations of the craft.
There are struggles to find an articulate way to describe Menzie’s sensational abilities when telling Blood and Gold, it’s closer to world-building than traditional storytelling. The fluidity of manipulating narrative, or conjuring colour and palette is entrancing as we are invited to re-examine our identities, the value of ritual as Menzies guides us on a journey of tragedy, and the blossoming warmth.
Channelling, building upon this warmth, Menzies’ performance forges an alliance of comfort with the audience as we are encouraged to join in the dance, to utilise our voices, to join in the tapestry she is weaving. Blood and Gold unearth the bones and trauma with which our foundations are built. She teases truth and knowledge from the ground, presenting them to the audience with a stead-fast and honest nuance.
And a stark reminder of the power of words. The ability of language to separate, twist and imprison. But more, Menzies rips back control in this story of self-doubt, utilising the very weapon used against generations as a tool of comfort, liberation, and necessity. Blood and Gold continue to be a strikingly beautiful piece, with a core of determined intention, carried undisputed brilliance by Menzies – a name which should be familiar to all theatre and storytelling lovers.
Blood & Gold runs at the Royal Lyceum Studio Space until August 28th.
Tickets for which may be obtained here.