A couple, desperate but unable to start a family, develop an intense relationship with a tree stump carved to look like a baby. Believing it to be real, gradually their obsession brings the stump of wood to life.
As the fixation grows, so does the ‘baby’ along with its monstrous appetite. Not content with baby food, it eats the family cat and then the postman. Things get stranger when the social worker arrives to see what’s going on...
Taken from the wonderfully twisted imagination of cult Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer, Little Otik combines dark humour, surreal horror and an unnerving but tender family story. Brought to the stage for the first time in a collaboration between Vanishing Point and the National Theatre of Scotland, Little Otik is a macabre and fantastical story about the lie of parenthood.
Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
Perth Theatre, Perth
Eden Court, Inverness
Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow
'Matthew Lenton’s production, a collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland, is visually ravishing. Kai Fischer’s set is a field of barren soil, waiting for the rain to usher in new life, while projections of sperm, foetuses and babies flicker across the back wall of the family’s flat. There is no such thing as the innocence of childhood for as long as the neighbourhood paedophile is at large. Extending Svankmajer’s surrealism, Lenton’s actors coax babies and cabbages from the ground and even find a real cat in a pram, while Christopher Shutt’s score keeps the show on an uneasy line between laughter and fear. As distinctive in its way as improbable’s Shockheaded Peter, Little Otik is a macabre delight.'
★★★★ The Guardian
'Between them [Vanishing Point & the National Theatre of Scotland] they have burrowed deep into the various subtexts to introduce a coherent framework of ideas around the theme of fertility and growth. The stage is covered with rich dark loam from which things begin to sprout; the back wall is a kaleidoscope of complex projections from trees to sperm to the very ordinary town in which these very extraordinary events are played out. ?What emerges at the centre of the piece . . . is the coming to maturity of Elspeth, the little girl next door. Rebecca Smith, in an astonishingly assured professional debut, catches that moment of standing on the brink of womanhood, awkward, knowing, part-Lolita, part-philosopher.'
★★★★ The Times
'The spectacular co-production between Vanishing Point and the NTS…generates huge theatrical excitement…Matthew Lenton’s thrilling production…throws a huge battery of state-of-the-art theatrical devices at this powerful story, without ever losing control of its own chilling, tragic-grotesque atmosphere. There’s superb, understated suburban-hell design by Kai Fischer; beautiful back-projected images by Finn Ross; animatronic puppetry of the most chilling post-human kind, and a superb cast of nine.'
★★★★ The Scotsman
'Vanishing Point’s Little Otik is as visually, stylistically and atmospherically singular a work as you’ll see on any stage…Kai Fischer’s set is phenomenal, Ewan Hunter’s creepy puppets are impressive and numerous striking tableaux will burn their way into your brain.'
'Director Matthew Lenton’s captivating production… Both Kai Fischer’s set and lighting and Christopher Shutt’s sound and music are beautifully attuned to the atmosphere of a story which is, by turns, menacing and elegiac.'
'Superb set and lighting design by Kai Fischer, complete with a hut that drops in from the flies, animatronic puppetry (by Ewan Hunter) that makes you shiver with every gesture, projections (by Finn Ross) that are quite beautiful, convincing rain and a real cat. The performances are of a universally high standard, none more so than that of young debutante Rebecca Smith, through whose not-always-reliable eyes the bizarre tale unfolds. Louise Ludgate and Sandy Grierson are outstanding as the childless couple who adopt a lump of wood as their surrogate son, without foreseeing the dangers of the appetite they are creating.'
'An intriguing, engaging and highly theatrical delight… Matthew Lenton’s direction and Vanishing Point’s process of devising are at the heart of the play but it’s their ability to combine and play with the dramatic and technological that makes this co-production so original…A disturbing, imaginative, technically stunning piece of work.'
A Vanishing Point and National Theatre of Scotland co-production, in association with Citizen’s Theatre.
Based on the film by Jan Švankmajer
Directed by Matthew Lenton
Adapted by Matthew Lenton with Sandy Grierson and the Company
Set and Lighting Design by Kai Fischer
Sound Design by Christopher Shutt
Projection Design by Finn Ross for mesmer
Puppetry and Animation Apparatus by Ewan Hunter
Costume Design by Becky Minto
Assistant Director Daljinder Singh
Voice Coach Ros Steen
Social Worker Elaine MacKenzie Ellis
Helena Meadows Pauline Goldsmith
Karl Foster Sandy Grierson
Postman/Puppet Animator/Cast Ewan Hunter
Bozena Foster Louise Ludgate
Frank Meadows Gary Mackay
Mr Ash Andrew Melville
Mrs Hawthorne Ann Scott-Jones
Elspeth Meadows Rebecca Smith
Production Manager Chris Hay
Company Stage Manager David Young
Deputy Stage Manager Alison Brodie
Assistant Stage Manager Carrie Taylor
Lighting Supervisor Paul Claydon
Sound Supervisor Matthew Padden
Video Technician Tim Reid
Wardrobe Supervisor Aileen Sherry
Wardrobe Assistant Victoria Young
Stage Supervisor Mike Hall
Julie Austin, Roisin Gallagher, Sean Hay, John Kazek, Frederic Nouger, Vari Sylvester, Cath Whitefield and Matthew Zajac.