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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

The Tale of Tommy O’Quire

Atomic Force Productions,

Genre: Children's Theatre, Storytelling

Venue: Sweet Venues


Low Down

Tom Dussek is a master storyteller portraying narrator, fishermen, tavern-keepers, and more in this racy but family-friendly folk tale of ghosts, monsters, and a quest for treasure!


The Tale of Tommy O’Quire is part of the Sea of Stories season at Sweet Venues (the others are The Wild Man of Orford  and Beowulf) in which the n’er do well Tommy thinks that great treasures are his for the taking, only to discover that perhaps treasure isn’t everything.

The tale is written by Craig Jordan-Baker, who originally told it in episodes to entertain his younger sisters on a family holiday. Following the success of Beowolf (another in the Sea of Stories) the team of writer, actor Tom Dussek and director Andy Cresswell have created a vivid new version for the stage.

Tommy lives under an upturned rotting boat in the harbour and one night in the pub overhears another regular boasting that he has a map that will lead him to hidden treasure. Tommy is not averse to the idea of wealth just the work required to gain it, so the chance of some easy treasure is not one he is going to pass up. However, he has to get the map first and that starts him on a slippery slope. It is a story with plenty of satisfying twists and turns with a protagonist who isn’t all bad or all good, just mostly all bad. The tale has a moral ending but it isn’t too obvious or predictable. And there are some nicely scary bits, with monsters and ghosts, that sort of scary.

The tale is written in verse and Dussek portrays narrator, fishermen, tavern-keepers, and more in lightening turn. He is a very engaging storyteller who holds the audience with every line. And delivers the verse text in a very natural and comfortable way, never rushed  and never overblown.

There is a backdrop which serves as set and on which pictures are displayed and which provides set changes. The illustrations are provided by Laura Dumbrell (National Theatre) and serve to create a comic book look to the show. Whilst it is a simple enough arrangement and works well where the changes fit with the text, there are times when the changes are fiddly and slow the action a little. The props on the other hand are artfully placed and brought into the action very naturally with some fulfilling more than one function which adds a satisfying sense of improvisation to the telling of the tale.

The target audience is children aged around ten but it is one to be enjoyed by any age and the day I saw it had an entirely adult audience all of whom thoroughly enjoyed it.