Once Upon a Happy Ever After
In the kingdom of Levitas, spoiled King Levi has passed a law banning all stories. For stories contaminate your mind, make your hands go green, and your head fuzzy. And King Levi, who can’t write a story himself, wants them all gone. But if shredding the old stories proves to be simple enough, getting rid the new stories that children make up is proving harder to do. In Mollie Molumby and Ursula McGinn’s super smart “Susie and the Story Shredder” a young girl learns to stop being afraid and to start imagining in this delightful piece of children’s theatre. One that sparks young imaginations with endless possibilities whilst delivering enough depth and subtext to engage even the most un-childlike adult.
In “Susie and the Story Shredder” Susie’s day is organised and planned out with unwavering regularity. In her black-and-white world she wakes up, switches on her shredder and eats Shreddies, or a Shreddie, for breakfast. She then takes delivery of stories from Simon the story stealer and goes to work shredding. Everything ticks over nicely until the disastrous great unveiling when King Levi storms off leaving Susie and her shredder alone. With a story. One that simply refuses to shred. But if Susie reads it will her hands turn green? Or might it just open her mind, colour her world, and finally save a king and his kingdom?
Showing shades of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude, and a hint of Nazi book burning, Molumby and McGinn’s “Susie and the Story Shredder” has a decidedly dark underbelly. One which, in a climate of fake news which aims to twist the truth, becomes immediately recognisible to most adults. But “Susie and the Story Shredder” is not about censorship, it’s about celebrating creativity, imagination, and moving past your fears to tell your stories. And it’s firmly aimed at the young. Who, if initially passive listeners as words and shadow puppets take their time setting things up, soon become actively involved after Susie gets her groove on and the performance becomes much more physical. Indeed, by the time the great unveiling arrives the young audience are ready to lead their own revolt. Due, in no small measure, to two sparkling performances by Matthew Malone and Clodagh Mooney Duggan. Malone’s over dramatic and sarcastic King, (according to the kids) exaggerates wonderfully, with Malone having the audience eating every word. A delightful cartoon character to offset Mooney Duggan’s more nuanced and subtle Susie who, while simple and direct, is never simplistic. Curious, lonely, creative, scared, and an enforcer of the king’s law, Mooney Duggan’s perfectly pitched performance ensures her complex Susie and her shredding are never made dislikable. Indeed, by the time the colours finally come out, both Malone and Mooney Duggan have won over their rebellious young audience completely.
Throughout, Mollie Molumby directs with an assured authority, crafting a visually rich production that’s a genuine pleasure to watch. One that’s smart, funny, and wonderfully engaging, courtesy of its two winning performances. Indeed, on the evidence of “Susie and the Story Shredder,” Bombinate Theatre Company are well on their way to becoming one of Ireland’s foremost children's theatre companies.
“Susie and the Story Shredder” by Mollie Molumby and Ursula McGinn, presented by Bombinate Theatre Company, runs at the Project Arts Centre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 until September 16
For more information, visit Project Arts Centre or Dublin Fringe Festival 2018.