Kate Crackernuts – Smock Alley – Review
9 – 13 July | 7:30pm | Main Space
The original version of Kate Crackernuts is a Scottish fairytale, which was collected by Andrew Lang in the Orkney Islands, and was published in the Longman’s Magazine in 1889. It tells the story of a young princess called Kate. She has a half sister Anne, who has been enchanted so that her head is replaced with that of a sheep! Kate fears it was her mother who was responsible for this feat, and sets out to put it right. Along the way, she encounters a young prince called Paul, who seems to be slowly dying from an unknown illness. Kate decides to take care of the prince to try and find the cause of his malady.
This new version of the tale was written by Sheila Callaghan and was originally produced in Seattle in the year 2000. Callaghan is an American writer who has worked on the Showtime series Shameless, among others. The play has been updated to our current era with various nods and winks for a modern audience!
No Drama Theatre company plunge the audience into this complex world, without any attempt to explain what is going on! The audience is left to its own devices to learn the relationships between the various characters (of which there are many) and what exactly is going on. It may have helped to give a short introduction to the work or at least explain who the characters were, as it meant the audience was playing catch up right from the start!
The play has a large number of scenes in different locations and much is left to the imagination of the audience. The set changes were quite slow and needed to be considerably tighter. This leisurely movement between scenes allowed the mind to wander which should never be the case.
The play had some moments of humour and insight, mainly due to the sharp writing. No Drama Theatre are a company who aim to produce ‘amateur dramatics in a relaxed, creative environment’ and as such, should not be judged on the same level as the Gate or the Abbey. While this was an ambitious production for them, it would possibly make more sense for a company with meagre budgets to aim for a smaller tale than this lavish, free-wheeling story. The 12 members in the cast are of mixed ability, but it does allow some of the actors with ambitions to work in the industry the chance to show their talent on stage.
Written by Sheila Callaghan
Directed by Kate Cosgrave