The idea is to take a beautiful and historic building (Dragon Hall was a merchant's house dating back to 1452 or thereabouts) and fill every atmospheric corner with stories and storytellers, a bar and food.
So, in 30 minute 'chapters' I was able to explore the building and listen to stories being read - some better, some worse as you might expect - I especially liked a trilogy called Electrification down in the basement cells of the building, lit only by candle-light and pointing out that shedding light on things is not always desirable, and the reading by Kevin Duffy entitled Cruelty. His soft Irish voice and, dare I say, appearance reminiscent of a leprechaun (or was it just the way he read the story) was very evocative of the great Irish traditions of storytelling, which he did so well.
There was no room for me in Fly which had limited spaces and Jon MacGregor who was telling stories in a little car so for the rest of the time I was in the Great Hall, which is lovely though I have to say, I did prefer the settings of the smaller more intimate and unusual spaces. We all came together in the Great Hall for the last story, Still, which was beautifully told by Anna Metcalfe and about a widowed man and his son who tok a photo each year as the last leaf fell from their plum tree. A touching coming of age story.
Overall, it was an interesting evening. I found the format a bit complicated as there was a lot of information to absorb whilst making choices. Had I have realised, I would have turned up half an hour earlier to give myself time to absorb how it all worked. It was hard to make choices, get a drink (the cocktails were nice but a bit slow), get to the next place and all before things were already full and I found it annoying and distracting to start with but after a while I decided just to turn up at whatever was nearest and available. It worked but I would have preferred to have felt more in control of choices than just taking the nearest on offer. And a bell or whistle warning of the start of the next session might have worked well and injected a sense of 'shift work' - it was a machine after all and sported its very own, slightly greasy mechanic. But these are all things that can be tweaked about the format and overall it was a great use of the building - the HQ of the Writers' Centre in Norwich.