Our Tethered Kin – Abbey Theatre (Peacock) – Review

Our Tethered Kin – Abbey Theatre (Peacock) – Review

A BrokenCrow production presented by the Abbey Theatre in association with the Everyman Cork – Our Tethered Kin
9 – 11 February 2023

Written by Ronan FitzGibbon
Directed by Gavin McEntee & Evan Lordan

An elderly woodcutter and his wife live in the depths of a dark and mysterious forest. They are childless and spend their days tending to a magical tree which grows in their garden. The fruit of the tree glows on its branches and has amazing properties. One night, the woodcutter wakes when he hears a noise coming from the woods. It sounds like a child crying in the distance. He ventures out into the woods where he finds a couple of small children, wrapped in a blanket. He takes the children back to his house and so begins the journey of these two children. We see their early years and their lives with the woodcutter and his wife.

This is a BrokenCow production presented by the Abbey Theatre in association with the Everyman Cork. The company BrokenCow was founded in 2011 by the writer of this piece, Ronan FitzGibbon. They are an ensemble of ‘skilled practitioners’, who are based in Cork, Waterford and Limerick.

The staging is relatively simple, with a large tree dominating the stage in the first act, along with a simple table and chairs to create the Woodcutter’s home. There are various locations required but lighting is used to vary the setting. The production is broken into two acts, with the story before the interval quite different to the one after the interval, although with some of the same characters. It is essentially two short plays that explore the same world.

With woodcutters, haunted forests and foundlings, this tale is very much in the world of fairytales, albeit aimed at adults, and delves into many familiar tropes and concepts. The story covers a lot of familiar ground and while it creates some eerie and unusual moments, there is nothing we haven’t seen before. The most impressive element of the production is its sense of style. The story is told through “movement, music, puppetry, and song” and it is an inventive and stylish production that bubbles with ideas. There are eight in the cast, and they cover the small stage, with ‘the shadows’, a group of invisible characters writhing and squirming in the background. There is music throughout, with recorded percussion or fiddle music creating a soundtrack, as well as live singing on stage. It is clear that a lot of work and creativity went into the production. With a very short run in the Peacock of only three nights, this production deserves to be seen by a wider audience so hopefully, it will return at a later date.

Cast: Claire Keating
Cast: Dylan Kennedy
Cast: Emily Kilkenny Roddy
Cast: George Hanover
Cast: Graham Butler Breen
Cast: Raymond Keane
Cast: Rosie O’Regan
Cast: Katie Honan

Writer: Ronan FitzGibbon
Directors: Gavin McEntee and Evan Lordan
Movement Director: Charles Sandford
Lighting Designer: Sarah Jane Sheils
Costume Designer: Deirdre Dwyer
Composer: Emily Donoghue
Sound Designer: Fiona Sheil
Line Producer: Sadhbh Barrett Coakley
Artwork: Magdalena Karol

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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