This weekend, at the Scotsman Award Ceremony in the Spiegeltent in St Andrews Square, award-winning children’s author Katherine Rundell’s debut play Life According to Saki won the coveted Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award. This is the first production by new company Atticist Productions, who now as part of the award take the play to New York Theater Workshop’s Fourth Street Theatre in February/March 2017.
Life According to Saki is inspired by the short stories of ‘Saki’, the pen name of the early Twentieth Century Scottish writer Hector Hugh Munro, described by The Guardian as “a master of the short story”. Like a cross between Oscar Wilde and Roald Dahl, Saki’s creations are witty, absurd, and peculiarly optimistic, and Rundell and Atticist Productions bring them to the stage through acting, music, dance, clown, and puppetry. The production is a family show, suitable for 9+.
“Saki remains, from a distance of a hundred years, just about the sharpest, cruellest, funniest and most elegant short story writer in our language.” Stephen Fry
1916. In the trenches of the Battle of Ancre, a soldier tells stories. That soldier is Saki. Beginning with early misrule and school-age rebellion, his stories move on to the complexities of youth and adulthood, obsessions and games, charm and chaos, friendship and jealousy, and, finally, death.
Life According to Saki is a collaboration of emerging young professionals, and the first production by Atticist Productions; directed by Jessica Lazar (École Philippe Gaulier; Another Country, The Caucasian
Chalk Circle, both Oxford Playhouse), and designed by Anna Lewis (whose work has been seen at the National Theatre, Oxford Playhouse, The Gate, The Finborough, and Secret Cinema). Katherine Rundell is the author of Rooftoppers (Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2014), Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms (a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winner), and The Wolf Wilder.
Carol Tambor, head judge for the award, says: “The play stood out because of its incredible polish. The persistent contrast of tone, as well as time, was fascinating. I was never sure whether the characters would say something cruel or funny – often both.”
Photo: Florence Walker