It is an old tale, of an old creature, born from a cockerel's egg; part chicken, part snake and part bat. But how did such an abomination come to be, and who can stop it rampaging around the village?
Two people dressed in rags come onto the stage, pushing a cart overflowing with odd bits and bobs. They are storytellers, who will risk getting trapped if they do not finish the story of the Cockatrice and the young nun who saved Werewell from the monster. The strange collection of objects they have with them cunningly become puppets and props to help bring this old legend to life.
Katie Underhay and Anthony Burbridge are highly engaging storytellers, drawing the audience into this atmospheric tale. They tell the story together seamlessly and their songs are well-chosen to enhance the overall piece. There is a good balance between visuals such as the puppets, and details which the storytellers leave to your imagination.
Clever use of sound effects and lighting sets a mysterious and eerie tone, perfect for the story. By aiming the piece at older children, teenagers and adults, the storytellers give themselves licence to retain the slightly scarier and darker parts of the tale, a decision which makes the legend all the more interesting. All the puppets are very well done, but especially the Cockatrice itself with its ominous glowing eyes; the little wooden spoons for the nuns and the adorable beanbag toad also work very well.
But I felt the overarching story of the pair of travelling storytellers, having to finish the story lest we all get trapped, seemed a little out of place. It didn’t feature strongly enough to generate suspense, but was mentioned too much to count as just a framing plot. For me, if anything, it detracted from the main tale and interrupted the otherwise excellent flow.
That aside, this engaging retelling of an old legend will appeal to a wide range of ages. With its thoughtful conclusion, clever puppetry and engaging storytelling, this piece brings to life the ancient tale.