For the fourth year in a row, Creative Cauldron presents the Christmas Cabin of Carnaween. It has become a tradition at ArtSpace during the holiday season. The play is set in County Donegal, Ireland during the time of the potato famine, around the year 1845. My parents are Irish immigrants so I knew a little about the famine. This past summer I visited a famine workhouse. I immediately started getting emotional during some of the scenes.
The show opens with a single mother forced to give up her baby because she could not afford to take care of it. The baby is known as the child of a tinker or what we refer to as a gypsy. The child, Oona, spends her life moving from home to home helping those in need. All she wants in life is to have a little cabin of her own. The story concludes on a snowy Christmas Eve when a bit of magic is brought on by the wee folk. The play eludes the message of paying it forward. If you do good things in your life, goodness and kindness will follow you.
The cast consists of professional actors, musicians, community and student performers. Katie Culligan, playing the main character, Oona Hegarty, sounded like she was from Derry. Being a neighboring county of Donegal, her accent was near flawless. When she sang, I could feel the emotion, particularly during the somber moments.
As the show centers its productions around and with children, five of them ranging from the ages of 6-14, comprise the youth ensemble. Their faces lit up the stage and gave an adorable surprise toward the end of the performance. Storyteller Penelope Fleming’s accent was spot on. I was most struck by her narration finding myself mesmerized by her actions and her voice. The musical trio of Magh Meall was fantastic playing in the background and at the forefront of the show.
There were only a few negatives. The play program reads the character as Oona. Oona was pronounced phonetically I guess for the American audience to understand. The correct Gaelic form is Una. I also thought that the actors would have benefitted from a lesson in Irish dancing. As a former dancer, they didn’t do the scenes justice.
The one hour show is recommended for ages 4 and up, although I suggest it for ages 6 and up. The floor plan allows for open seating, and at a capacity of 85 chairs, you are guaranteed a good view. Beverages and candy are available to purchase and can be brought into the theatre. Water fountains and restrooms are on site.
Christmas Cabin of Carnaween is on stage until December 23, 2012. Performances are held Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Free parking is available in the adjacent garage. Eateries such as Elevation Burger and Pizzeria Orzo are within walking distance.
I believe the Christmas Cabin of Carnaween is an important production that is fitting to see this time of year. You realize that what is really important in life are the simple things. I highly recommend taking your family and friends to see this show.
Creative Cauldron offers workshops, classes, live theater, music and dance for children and adults. They are currently enrolling for Arts Adventure Camps for winter and spring break and summer camp.
From January 12 to 27 and February 2 to 24, 2013 enjoy the “Passport to the World” series. Each week Creative Cauldron will feature professional, music, dance, and theatre artists from across the globe, along with free workshops, food and family-friendly story theatre presentations.
Want to be a part of an upcoming production? Children can enroll in a Learning Theater Workshop and perform in Peter Pan and Wendy. Of course, you can also just be an audience member when it debuts March 1 to 24, 2013.
Photo courtesy of Creative Cauldron.