‘Knowledge and a Girl’ is Howard Barker’s re-imagining of ‘Snow White’ as tragedy. Kudos are a justly respected company and this interpretation gives a less-well known Barker script a deserved outing.
The King of a Great Place has two problems (apart from his own sociopathic personality), in this instance his wife and his daughter. The Queen is apparently barren (Snow White is her step-daughter). The former is sexually adventurous, the latter sexually curious. The territory appears at first glance a little at odds with Barker’s other work, but the concern of ‘Knowledge and a Girl’ with power and its misuses places it within Barker’s continuous themes.
The Queen seduces the visiting King of all the Irish and then his son, but such silken dalliance brings its retribution in her own pregnancy and further estrangement from her stepdaughter. Snow White plunges into the forest, sleeps, by her own account with seven men (Barker ain’t no Disney), but returns to discover the Queen about to suffer the fate of women who cross weak men.
‘Knowledge and a Girl’ is performed by a suitably strong cast, among whom Zoey Barnes as The Queen, Roslyn Jones as Snow White and Greta Matuseviciute are all notable, as is John Bond as the King.
The venue itself provides a space that, while offering intimacy also presents challenges and it’s to the company’s credit these never overwhelm.
This production is the UK theatre premiere of a script first performed on BBC Radio Four in 2001, but Kudos’ production is such as to never betray its origins (though these are mentioned in programme notes).
Seen toward the end of a long day’s reviewing, this production offered considerably more than this review perhaps indicates, and possibly a little more than the rating given. It’s certainly worth your time to consider if this may be the case.
Til 15 August, 6.15pm