The king of broken things by Michael Taylor-Broderick at the National Arts Festival, Makhanda

  • 0

The king of broken things
Written and directed by Michael Taylor-Broderick
Cast: Cara Roberts
Production company: Theatresmiths
Venue: Victoria Theatre, National Arts Festival, Makhanda

The king of broken things must rate as one of the most magical tales I have ever seen on any stage.

The set is cluttered with broken things.

A young boy walks on and starts addressing the audience. This is metatheatre, as the boy talks to those in the stands. He tells a simple tale of having lost his father. We don’t know how the father was lost, but we do know three things:

  1. His mother’s heart is broken as a result.
  2. He adored his kind father, who always looked after the weak and the broken.
  3. The boy himself is struggling, not only with the loss of his dad, but also with being teased and bullied at school.

We get to meet the boy in his hide-out – possibly a workshop that had once belonged to his father.

The young chap keeps mementos of his dad there – mostly broken things. There is a cell phone, though, that does work. On the phone his dad had recorded a message which the boy listens to when he wants to fall asleep. There is a suitcase full of self-illustrated comic books which he and his dad had created together.

The boy continues to collect junk and he continues to build and invent new machines.

Some of these “machines” seem to be somewhat Heath Robinson-like in their approach and only an active imagination would be able to make sense of them, as in the case of the printer which prints documents in the same colour as the boy’s mood.

Others, like a periscope he had created from a broken mirror and cast-off water pipes, are simple and straightforward.

The boy also has a cape on to which he sticks light words. He hopes that one day it will allow him to fly.

Light words, you ask?

Of sorry, I forgot.

The boy has invented a machine that measures the weight of words. Some words, like anger, weigh a lot. Others, like smile, weigh very little.

We meet the boy when he comes home from school repeating: “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words cannot hurt me.”

His dad told him that, but some words seem to weigh him down. To avoid some of the heaviest words, he had invented a head covering and a pair of googles.

Sometimes he weighs words on a scale of his own making; the light ones get added to his cape.

The boy understands his mother’s sadness. He knows that some things, like hearts, take a very long time to fix. Meanwhile he hides in this workshop full of broken things, building new machines.

His mother never enters here, and sometimes when she forgets about him, the boy sleeps here as well.

I was allowed to photograph the play, but I withhold pictures from the latter part, especially the end, as I do not want to spoil anything.

Please do go and see The king of broken things.

It is sweet. It is whimsical. It is simple.

It is magic.

A dear friend who publicly says he does not read fiction saw the play and agreed with me that this is “wonderful theatre”.

The king of broken things was a Gold Ovation Award-winner of the Virtual National Arts Festival in 2020.

In 2022 it was the winner in three categories at the Golden Dolphin International Puppet Festival: Best Script and Best Director (Michael Taylor-Broderick) and Best Actress (Cara Roberts).

Michael Taylor-Broderick

Taylor-Broderick graduated from Natal Technikon with a diploma in Theatre Technology in 1993, obtaining the highest overall aggregate in the Faculty of Arts.

He did not stop learning or innovating.

Quite by chance I saw his play Jakob a few hours after The king of broken things (which is a simpler story than Jakob). Jakob is also wonderful and it, too, works with lights and gadgets galore.

In The king of broken things the puppetry comes alive only in the last minutes, but the way in which the play builds up to that climactic moment is what makes it so delightful.

The clutter of broken things on stage allows Cara Roberts to shine as an actor, skilfully directed by Taylor-Broderick, of course.

Cara Roberts

Roberts plays the little, broken boy with gusto. Her slight frame looks boyish on stage.

Hours after the show I spoke to her, as Cara, and she simply is a good-looking person with a lovely, deepish voice, but she speaks in a higher voice for the role of the boy.

On stage she transformed into a lonely boy who, for a few minutes each day, becomes the king of broken things.

I highly recommend this play.

It is magical.

  • Photography: Izak de Vries
See also:

  • 0


Jou e-posadres sal nie gepubliseer word nie. Kommentaar is onderhewig aan moderering.