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Edinburgh Fringe 2017

The Tale of the Cockatrice

Mumblecrust Theatre and Peafrog Puppetry

Genre: Children's Theatre, Drama, Fringe Theatre, Puppetry, Theatre

Venue: Venue 13


Low Down

Two storytellers, locked in the telling of their tales come onstage to let us into the world of a time long past but never forgotten. The legend of a Cockatrice who terrorised a village after an egg that hatched from a toad that sat atop it, before being found escaped from a Priory where it lived for years. It was slain and finished off by a nun who was pure though her predecessor who was around at the beginning of the egg was a former bitter and twisted Queen whose very presence may be through the heart of the old legend that is the Cockatrice.


We begin our story with a king, a trusted Knight, and the beautiful and captivating Queen to be who is a mistress manipulator. The backstory of Queen Elfreda was beautifully set up. The village drawn through the farmer puppet who returned as the great grandson of his original was fantastically well done but the animal that was the Cockatrice stole it for me. What an absolutely fantastic puppet that was manipulated well and had the right mix of innocence and menace. It was the menace that caused the problem as the Queen, now dead had bequeathed a sanctuary for forgiveness that now had a massive threat to all and sundry under its roof but when it came out from there it wreaked havoc.

This has been made with a slightly older child in mind and this older child loved it. The performances were spot on with some fantastic interplay between the story tellers, the script was pitched just right, the puppetry was superior and the music integrated and all English folk tale, to match the story.

The storytellers bring a cart that is full of the odds and sods of everyday life that people throw away and we see the cart being put to great use with umbrellas for swords and the best use of a standard lamp I have seen for some time – a tree that turns into a nun. There were also spoons and candelabra put to good use and an umbrella used for screen for shadow puppetry. Nothing was ignored and all was well integrated.

It was the inventiveness and childlike wonder that made this such an entertaining children’s piece of theatre. I loved every minute of it as the pace of it was pitched just at the right level for their audience.

The moral of the story was as clever as the rest as we are told that evil will not destroy evil in case it destroys itself. But good people do not destroy so the Cockatrice is to be banished from its killing grounds the conceit for the general population of the terrorised village is it is destroyed but it is actually let free. Such kindness seems to have turned its head from evil and we hope it is somewhere continuing to do good. Unless of course, you know different…