Classic Riddley Walker for ‘big top’ treatment

FANS of classic novel Riddley Walker are expected to descend on Waterford in the near future for a rare stage production of the futuristic work.

Red Kettle Theatre Company is putting on the dramatic adaptation of the Russell Hoban book from November 10-17 in a specially sourced Italian ‘big top’ circus tent at the RSC grounds in Waterford city.

This is only the third time the play has been performed anywhere in the world since the author adapted it for the stage in the 1980s. Hoban himself gave express permission for the play to be performed in Waterford to Red Kettle’s artistic director and Hoban enthusiast Ben Hennessy at a meeting in London earlier this year.

“We are honoured to perform this play,” said Mr Hennessy. “We have had lots of international queries and it is anticipated that the production will attract a large following from fans based around the world.”

He described the language devised by Hoban for the book as “one of the most exciting qualities” of Riddley Walker and said it was a “a challenging and rewarding read”, which was easier for theatregoers to understand when delivered phonetically on stage.

Some well-known Irish actors will feature in the production alongside some of the country’s most promising, up-and-coming talent. Cork native Pascal Scott, known to many as Killinascully’s favourite member of the gardaí, will play the role of Abel Goodparley — the “Pry Mincer of Inland” (Prime Minister of England) while Dubliner Cormac McDonagh, fresh from his film debut in Irish short 32A will play the lead role of Riddley Walker.

Punch and Judy play a significant role in the play and Red Kettle are joined by Miriam Lambert of the famous Lambert Puppeteers for the production. The musical score has been composed by Jamie Beamish, known for his title role in the much acclaimed musical comedy, I Keano.

The novel and play are set in a post-apocalyptic Kent 3,000 years in the future, where mankind has resorted to living in primitive Iron Age settlements. Teenager Walker — a “happener” — hops over the fence of his encampment and sets off on a quest for knowledge. Red Kettle Producer Joan Dalton describes the play as “a hugely visual, physical and storytelling feast involving puppetry, spirits, dead towns and rain — lots of rain”.

That rain will be reflected in the visual effects planned for the show.

Early bookings are encouraged to avoid disappointment and tickets for the performance are on sale at the Garter Lane Box Office on 051-855038 or www.garterlane.ie at a cost of €25 or €22 for concessions.

Tickets are also available for special previews on November 7, 8 and 9 at €20 and €18 concession.

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