Friday, December 4, 2009

Play of the Week: Kate Crackernuts

A king had a daughter named Anne, and his queen had a daughter named Kate, who was less beautiful. The queen was jealous of Anne, but Kate loved her. The queen consulted with a hen-wife to ruin Anne's beauty, and after three tries, they enchanted Anne's head into a sheep's head. Kate wrapped Anne's head in a cloth, and they went out to seek their fortunes. They found a castle where the king had two sons, one of whom was sickening, and whoever watched him by night vanished. Kate asked for shelter for herself and her "sick" sister, and offered to watch.

At midnight, the sick prince rose and rode off. Kate sneaked onto his horse and collected nuts as they rode through the woods. He went into a green hill, where the fairies were dancing, and Kate added herself to the charm he used to get in. The second night, Kate found a fairy baby. It played with a wand, and she heard fairies say that three strokes of which would cure Anne. So she rolled nuts to distract the baby and get the wand, and cured her sister.

The third night, Kate said she would stay only if she could marry the prince, and that night, the baby played with a bird, three bites of which would cure the sick prince. She distracted the baby with the nuts again to get it. As soon as they returned to the castle, she cooked it, and the prince was cured by eating it.

Meanwhile his brother had seen Anne and fell in love with her, so they all married -- the sick brother to the well sister, and the well brother to the sick sister.

...And that's just the original fairytale. Now imagine the play set in modern times. The fairy ring becomes a rave club. The fairy's magic is replaced by drugs. And there is a headless sheep who guides us through the story while looking for his head. Playwright Sheila Callaghan does a wonderful job of blending the elements of the original tale with her own lyrical prose and links to a more familiar setting.

Happy Birthday: Gasparo Gozzi (1713-1786)

December 6: Tom Hulce (b. 1963) & Ira Gershwin (1896-1983)

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