The Alizar Tree

Little Red Kettle Theatre Company used a selection of characters from Grimm fairytales in their very imaginative production of their own creative concatenation, The Alizar Tree, giving a cast of over 50 children a glorious chance to explore transformative theatre. During the summer I had been reading the Philip Pullman variations on Grimm Fairytales, alongside the originals, so I was ready to plunge into Ben Hennessy’s script and be carried along by Liam Meagher’s direction.

Most of the cast played several parts, from Princesses to Goats, as the battle between the Sorceress against the children, Hope and Heart, played out in the shadow of The Alizar Tree. It was so unfortunate that Susan Boyce, who was to have played the Sorceress, took ill and had to be replaced by Niamh Finn, with the script in hand. Niamh was an excellent stand in.  Ella Browne was the young Hope and Shannon Murphy was the older Hope with Michael Clooney as the young Heart and Jason Carty-Lacy as the older Heart. Samuel Halligan was their brother Ali and the Alizar Raven.

The story was the battle by the creatures enslaved by the Sorceress to capture these three children on a journey covering ten years. I loved the local dialogue (‘what’s wrong with ya boi’) and the various gentle love stories, aspects of inclusion/exclusion and wonderful fun that emerged naturally within the dramatic and theatrical transformation. I liked the way individual stories grew as the story unfolded, like Holly Rogan as Frowzy, Conor O’Sullivan as Tosser/Wolf and Cathal Moran as Troll. Corey Shanahan was a fun, singing Woodcutter and Kate Cremin delighted, much to the admiration of her Auntie, Claire Hearne and friend, Elinor Browne.

I liked the contrast between Alex Fitzgerald as Tiny (the tallest member of the cast) and Tony Rowe as Big. Jessica Reinl, Ben and Sam Roche added much to the fun. Molly Hennessy shone as Biddens/Red Riding Hood and Mirror.

As the story progressed it was a clever touch to have it all set in a school play context, adding another layer and Brian Cahill was excellent as Billy, as was Kim Daly as Susan/Director.

Jack Kavanagh was Wolf and a character called Vile. Jack McGrath was a very vocal Rashers. Colm O’Reilly was Tim, who added another layer of theatre to the drama. This was a very clever production and it was such a joy to follow the re-occurring characters who kept coming and going as their roles developed. Two such performances typified the wonder of this play. Sam Kavanagh was the reluctant actor Simon, who had to get ‘better’ as the story progressed. Alex Collins as Bash kept re-appearing and trying to deliver a line that, by the end of the show, made wonderful sense.

I had a great night as did the appreciative audience, but I think the cast had the most fun and that is the magic of Little Red Kettle, under Jenny Clooney’s assured stewardship.