Lantern Tales from the Ottawa Valley produced by Tales from the Four Winds and playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival is an hour of storytelling and fiddling. The show opens on a blank stage holding a table, two chairs, and two mugs. A fiddle starts to play a folk tune and then Norman Perrin and the fiddler, Dr. Tom Hamilton, enter. Perrin invites the audience to join him for a cup of tea while he spins yarns inspired by the lives of his ancestors in rural Ontario.
Although Perrin’s tales have a very specific locale, they have a lot in common with other folktales. They feature talking animals, larger than life personalities, and even a card game with the devil. There’s an element of enchantment and magic that runs throughout. The stories are charming and believable if somewhat far-fetched. As Perrin says, he’s “stretching the facts to fit the truth.” I particularly liked the opening tale of Great Grandma Perrin’s pet beavers and the one about the only fish mine in Ontario.
As a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, they reminded me of the stories Pa Ingalls would tell. Just with more snow and ice. The fiddling (which also reminded me of Wilder’s books) runs throughout, providing musical interludes between the stories and playing a prominent role in some.
Perrin’s delivery is familiar and avuncular, with a soft gentle tone that works well in the small space of the Tarragon Solo Room. The audience seemed to really enjoy themselves. Although it’s not specifically a Kidsfest Fringe show, it’s definitely family friendly, and I think it would be very appealing for kids 6 and up
However, the show seemed a little under-rehearsed to me. There were moments when Perrin lost the thread of a story or seemed to forget the name of character. It lacked polish. At the end, Perrin did say that this was the show’s world premiere. Maybe he just needs some more time to work out the kinks.
Despite that, I was entertained. If you like folk tales and storytelling, check out Lantern Tales from the Ottawa Valley.
- Lantern Tales from the Ottawa Valley plays at the Tarragon Solo Room. (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. Check in at the venue box office at least 15 minutes before showtime, and a staff member will escort you to the venue. Accessible seating is in the front row.
- Friday July 7th, 03:00 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 10:15 pm
- Monday July 10th, 07:30 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 05:00 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 06:30 pm
- Friday July 14th, 07:00 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 01:00 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 04:00 pm
Photo of Norman Perrin by Christine Love