Gonzales has audience in thrall with epic storytelling
Dressed as 17th century French courtier Charles Perrault, the original author of the story of Sleeping Beauty, David Gonzalez appeared.
Pen in hand and fist on brow, hunched over a grand piano locked in the throes of composition, he searched for words to introduce the tale to the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts audience, struggling with the rhymes to build his narrative.
Help came on Friday, timidly and hesitantly at first, and then with increasing confidence and volume, from the children in the Earl Cameron Theatre.
David Gonzalez had drawn them all in and the story hadn't even begun yet.
There is something wonderful about an evening of spoken narrative such as this. From antiquity, fairytales and legends existing only as part of oral lore and tradition.
Perrault, Basile, and successors such as Herder, Grimm and Schlegel, made it their life's work to transcribe these ephemeral, protean and largely improvised narratives into the more permanent form of the written word in order to preserve them.
Gonzalez is in the process of rediscovering for us some of the magic of underlying oral traditions which predate the ‘authorised' versions known to us from literature.
First, he focuses on the 13th fairy, surely a victim of bullying and now hellbent on revenge:
“Once there was a fairy rejected and scorned,
“As if she had never, ever been born.”
In fact, the whole story can be seen as the working out of this poor fairy's revenge, the truly awful consequences of casually ignoring someone's existence by forgetting to invite them to an event and thus putting them into a murderous rage.
Second, Gonzalez uses Bach's Goldberg Variations, beautifully played on piano by Daniel Kelly, as theme music throughout the narrative, thus employing the most famous music ever composed to ease insomnia and beautify the tale of a century of sleep. He estimates that he has introduced this music to about 360,000 children over the last ten years.
Last, Gonzalez added a number of delightful, unscripted moments to the story. The sight of him and Daniel Kelly in enchanted sleep at the piano had all of us giggling, as did the lovers' quarrel about who awakened whom and in what order.
This was an evening of brilliant, profound and completely original storytelling, which held us all spellbound.