JRR Tolkien's Leaf By Niggle @ Scottish Storytelling Centre

A timeless tale adapted from JRR Tolkien's short story, told with a profoundly personal touch

Review by Dominic Corr | 23 Aug 2019
  • JRR Tolkien's Leaf By Niggle @ Scottish Storytelling Centre

For those seeking Hobbits, it may be a disappointment to discover that this tale does not reside in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. There are no Uruk-hai, no Wizards and absolutely no Elves. Instead, there is a new form of magic to be found in Leaf By Niggle, so long as you keep an eye outFrom the creators of the equally charming The Man Who Planted Trees comes a look at what many argue is an autobiography from Tolkien. Bathing in its ambiguous notoriety, Leaf By Niggle sits as a wholly honest piece of theatre. Few other shows feel quite as suitable as this does to the gorgeous setting of Edinburgh's Storytelling Centre. 

Niggle, a man who places himself just on the outskirts of a town, is an amateur painter. He knows time is precious, for he has a journey which cannot be put off any longer. Before that, he must finish his painting- a vast canvas which groans under the weight of each leaf affixed to the tree, capturing the dewdrop transparency best he can.

Echoes of times gone by pervades, as an essence of The Old Curiosity Shop is found in the production's construction. Various props offer a faint brass glow, casting a sense of nostalgia across the stage. Seamlessly flowing, it is the endearing original composition by Karine Polwart and MJ McCarthy which keeps the tempo as much as Richard Medrington’s narration.

So, is it a tale of religious experience? A thin veil of the atrocities Tolkien saw at the Battle of the Somme? Perhaps it's a closing tale of the final journey: death. Read into Leaf By Niggle however you desire, although Tolkien would oppose drawing any allegories from his texts. For us, Leaf by Niggle is a captivating story, put across in a heartfelt way which has the potential to touch each individual on a profoundly personal level.

JRR Tolkien’s Leaf By Niggle, Storytelling Centre, 4pm, run ended