The art of storytelling comes to town

In these straitened times we hear a great deal about ways to entertain ourselves without pushing the boat out. Why see a West End show when you can rent a DVD? Why go out to dinner when you can cook spaghetti at home? Fair enough – but if you still want to go out and have an extravagant imaginative experience without a huge outlay of cash, you could do worse than to find yourself a storyteller to listen to.

There’s a wealth of storytelling delights on offer this autumn. It’s an art form which – in our supposedly sophisticated Western culture – too many people still think belongs, as the storyteller Shonaleigh Cumbers puts it, only “with the facepainter and the balloon-maker” but this is no more true than believing that theatre is only children’s theatre or literature is only children’s books. Listening to a great storyteller is a magical, remarkable experience: how can one man or one woman, all by him or herself, conjure a whole world from breath alone? I don’t know the answer; I do know that it can be done.