WITHOUT doubt this was totally mesmerising, the quality of story-telling was superb and the structure of the piece outstanding.

Equally worthy of note was the fact that this amazing tale, where one story rolled into another seamlessly and all ended where it first began, was an incredible feat of memory by an extremely talented story teller.

Yet, there were times when I felt that the narrative jarred and this in part was due to the fact that it was overtly driven by an over-riding need to be politically relevant and topical.

In fairness, this was made clear from the start with the brief review of the stories of two non-white visitors to Edinburgh, one who found only courtesy and acceptance and support for his abolitionist values and one in 1980’s who was murdered for daring to talk to a white woman.

The way in which these two differing stories became part of the whole was extremely clever and made for a very creative and intelligent piece of work and did serve as an important reminder as to how attitudes and behaviours do seem to have veered towards extremism in recent times.

The problem though with having an agenda set at the start is that it can easily become a lens which distorts to shape views towards its own ends. This said, it was however a compelling piece of theatre performed by a master of her craft.

Mara Menzies does not so much tell stories as inhabit them, every movement is an elegant extension of the spoken word and every word is articulate and carefully chosen. It is beautiful to watch and creates an almost dream-like torpor in which to wallow - yet, wonderful though this is to experience, at its conclusion you do feel as if something is missing.

The cyclic pattern of the stories becomes increasingly abstract and the characterisation of good and evil becomes too simplistic to be an answer to the questions posed in the first instance.

The idea of the shadowman sucking vitality out of life and destroying all joy is set against the notion of good being personified by the joy-giving story tellers but the characterisation never progresses beyond this.

The idea of words being honed and used as weapons is interesting and is repeated throughout the cycle to great effect but for me in the end, though lovely to look at, the box was empty.

The stories individually were enchanting and the performance engaging but ultimately I felt it had all been just smoke and mirrors and a heavy dose of beating around the head with blunt political imagery.