The Little Red Kettle Theatre Company, with their amazing production of A Big Loada Stuff, last week at Garter Lane, brought not only children’s theatre but the very act of creative transformative theatre to an awesome level of achievement. Written by Ben Hennessy and directed by Liam Meagher, this was a big loada fun, a big loada excitement, a big loada junk on a chaotic setting of a dumpsite with heaps and loada discarded stuff. What a great experience for a cast of 52 young people.
The story is set on many levels and layers of history, storytelling, peoples’ lives on a city dump, built on a city dump built on or near a Famine graveyard, very like the site history of Waterford’s city dump. It’s unfolding scene by scene is excellent and it holds the attention with anticipation and expectation. On a surface level it tells the story of a group of Scouts at summer camp who explore the refuse heap and decide to build a creature from scrap in a recycling project where Nuke (Josh Ryan) insists that it must have wings. I loved this character whose insistence re-affirmed for me a dream and create that dream intact.
Jordan O’Regan’s Max was the star of the show with his bursts of enthusiasm and spot-on dialogue and he was the livliest of live-wires in his battles and conflict with Zap (Ross Kavanagh).
Gradually you notice creatures or whatever who dress in weird junk and speak in a strange mad-up language. Clare Horgan and Margaret O’Mahony shone here with incredible designs and costuming. Then a scout Lily (Clodagh O’Doherty) senses something and not just the cold she feels. Again, people in white robes appear with some nice shocks and sound effects from Joe Harney and you see a strange boy apparently being shot at. Ollie Sharp plays this character Jimmy with great verve.
Not only that but we meet a group of local children who are as curious as the audience.
More surprises are in store and in Act Two we meet a group of Famine victims who catch measles and are buried on site. This section mixes Irish folktales with a timely disease story and the music uses snatches of Do Bhiosa La I bPortlairge to underline the local theme. Tess Breslin as Brid carries this sad narrative with great skill. Tara Acheson was an impressive Eileen and Rachel Lawton was Maire.
It is a tribute to Liam Meagher’s fine direction that all these diverse strands come together so well and when the eventual creature (with wings) is assembled, I felt such an uplift, such a transformative feeling.
Nights at the theatre don’t too often get better than this. Amazing stuff.