top of page
  • Chris O'Rourke

Our Tethered Kin

Our Tethered Kin. Image Enrique Carnicero


Once upon a time there were two babes in the woods. Abandoned siblings swaddled like Jesus, they were taken in by an old farmer and his vainglorious wife. Living next to a magical tree, they grew up together as shadow creatures crept closer from the desolate dark. Soon, there would be a reckoning as the light and the dark battled for…you probably know the rest. Pretty sure you’ve heard this one already. Or some version of it. In Our Tethered Kin, Ronan Fitzgibbon draws on old tropes to tell an old fashioned fairytale done countless times before. The result a predictable adventure in an unpredictable production. One which strives to answer the eternal question; what is it about theatre that makes it so unique?

Our Tethered Kin. Image Enrique Carnicero

Narratively, it’s straightforward fare. Brother and sister, Abrafo and Aeni, are raised by the keepers of the sacred tree of light. That which separates the shadow creatures from the world of people. Twisted beings, invisible to the human eye, who compel human behaviour when the light fades. A metaphor for the subconscious, for societal pressures, for social media, or for the darker shadows of mental health, it's never quite specified. Yet these twisted shapes twist people out of shape till they end up like demented puppets. Until Aeni, the victim of endless abuse, finds that her crucifixion enables her to see and repel the shadows. But can she save all the blind souls, particularly her brother Abravo? Can she undertake the classic journey through the depths of the psyche so they can find their way home and live happily ever after?

Raymond Keane in Our Tethered Kin. Image Enrique Carnicero

While there’s magic in Fitzgibbon’s story, the real magic is on the stage. Employing props, puppets and rigorously worked tech, Our Tethered Kin is remarkable not so much for its story but for the manner in which it tells that story. As with Fitzgibbon’s economical script, directors Gavin McEntee and Evan Jordan work from the principle of show rather than tell, creating visceral immediacy from efficient physicality. Lighting designer, Sarah Jane Sheils, surpassing her own excellent standards to shift and marry moods, be they internal or external. Costume designer, Deirdre Dwyer, capturing the charm of the fairytale while excelling at its shadowed creatures; grey, bulbous Quasimodos from a Hellraiser reboot who prove wonderfully unsettling. Assisted in no small measure by movement director, Charles Sandford, whose strict economy marries the physical to the psychological (and mythic) so one word sentences can boom like thunder. Composer, Emily Donoghue, and sound designer, Fiona Sheil, creating a soundscape that’s more than just an accompanying soundtrack, laced as it is with the thick texture of the dark and the shining of slivers of light.

Our Tethered Kin. Image Enrique Carnicero

From Into The Woods to Wicked, the fairytale has proven remarkably amenable to theatrical re-imaginings. If narratively conventional, theatrically Our Tethered Kin shines by virute of its imagination, ingenuity, immediacy and execution. It's not the greatest story ever told, though it does reference it, yet comparative mythologists are sure to have a blast. As are those who appreciate visceral theatre; the use of body as voice, through gesture, tone, comportment and expression, being simply remarkable. Focused around a stunning ensemble who each claim first prize: Claire Keating, Dylan Kennedy, Emily Kilkenny Roddy, George Hanover, Graham Butler Breen, Raymond Keane, Rosie O’Regan and Katie Honan defying superlatives. With Keane’s subtle simplicity, Hanover’s wild raging and Honan’s palpable passion a masterclass to delight in.

Our Tethered Kin by Ronan Fitzgibbon, a Brokencrow production presented by The Abbey Theatre in association with The Everyman, Cork, runs at The Peacock Stage of The Abbey Theatre until Feb 11.

For more information visit The Abbey Theatre


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
bottom of page