The Crock of Gold is adapted from James Stephens’ novel of the same name, by Simon Startin. The entertaining story tells of a Grey Lady and a Thin Lady who both marry philosophers. The philosophers are so wise that one of them, the Grey Lady’s husband, decides he knows everything he could ever possibly know and therefore it is time for him to die. Then his wife dies, so the Thin Lady and her philosopher husband bury the bodies- only to find they are suspected of murder later on.
Meanwhile, their children and the daughter of a local farmer have vanished. The children of the Grey Lady and the Thin Lady are living with leprechauns, who are searching for their crock of gold, and the farmer’s daughter is ‘shacked up with a god’ after meeting Pan in the forest and deciding to follow him - ‘not because she understood what he said, but because he was naked.’
There are plenty of laughs to be had in the quirky tale and the story appeals to both children and adults; and in a slightly panto-esque twist, the two ladies are played by men and the philosophers are played by women. The performers skilfully switch between numerous roles, apart from the Thin Lady and her surviving philosopher husband (a compelling performance by Linda Dobell that reminds me very much of Kathryn Hunter, who was so good in the role of Richard III at The Globe), who stay in the same roles for most of the story. The cast are excellent story-tellers.
Moving around the park between scenes to get to the next stage of the characters’ journey gives audience members a chance to stretch their legs; and the respite is much needed as the promenade production lasts two hours with no interval, which was getting taxing for some of the younger viewers.
The show starts at twilight (9pm on press night), which might make some people a little tight on time for transport home. But the company makes excellent use of the light (or lack of) as a story-telling device and their technique, cleverly directed by Jonathan Petherbridge, involves moving tableaux that give the piece a surreal quality, as though the actors are the animations in the novel coming to life off the page.
- Caroline Ansdell