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REVIEW: Ragnarok (World Premier)

3 February 2024

MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling


Ragnarok by Tortoise in a Nutshell with Figurteatret i Nordland and in association with Macrobert Arts Centre

Ragnarok is the new production from multi-award winning theatre company Tortoise in a Nutshell. Together with Figurteatret i Nordland and in association with Macrobert Arts Centre, Tortoise in a Nutshell have created a show that fuses together visual theatre and puppetry to create a stunning live animation the likes of which I've never seen.

"A miniature world of cities, mountains and valleys is populated by hundreds of hand-crafted clay figures, brought to life through live feed camera work, recorded voices and an atmospheric immersive soundtrack."

"The world is breaking.

What is it to be one face in a million, walking through the end of your world?

Ragnarok follows a young girl and her brother as they battle to find a promised land. Two souls in a sea of thousands, they move through a fractured world as both dream and reality crumble around them. A collision of ancient myth and modern spectacle, Ragnarok takes inspiration from Norse mythology’s cyclical tale of the same name to explore the most pressing issues of our time."

Ragnarok by Tortoise in a Nutshell. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Before the performance begins, the auditorium is already dark and hazy, hinting at the eerie tale to come. Then, when the show did begin, it took me a few moments to work out what was going on. Nothing I had read in advance hinted at the fact that this story would take place in Scotland - or, what used to be Scotland - it's like all the best parts of your favourite post-apocalyptic stories come to life, but in a familiar setting and with a local accent.

When we meet our little clay protagonists they have endured three years of winter and have witnessed the fall of society. Their story and their will to survive is tough to watch at times, but it's diffused with moments of joy and hope. Although we don't know what caused their world to end, Ragnarok makes us think about the immediacy of our own global crises and the impact on our own way of life.

The message throughout this production is one of hope, and the ending is simply sublime. The set pieces, the lighting, the direction are all so clever. I can only imagine the many. many hours that it has taken to bring this piece to life.

Ragnarok by Tortoise in a Nutshell. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Ragnarok is told through the hands of incredibly skilled performers who handle each of the tiny clay figures with the utmost love and care. Their movement of, and through, the tiny sets is choreographed to perfection, and their live camera work is exquisite.

Backed at all times by ethereal live music from Jim Harbourne and an omnipresent fog, this is perhaps the most atmospheric production I've ever seen. The music is rousing, the story is captivating and heartbreaking. At once calming but also alarming, this is a multisensory masterpiece of storytelling through various mediums that fuse together flawlessly to create a bold, magical piece of theatre.

Twice during the show there were a good few minutes where the cast did nothing more than move and place sets in preparation for the next scene. But it's done with such purpose and precision that even those moments are spellbinding.

I'm so pleased that I saw the very first performance of this show at the start of it's nationwide tour, because that means I can purchase tickets for future dates and experience it again. It's stunning. 

Following its world premier at MacRobert Arts Centre this weekend, Ragnarok will have its Edinburgh Premiere as part of the Manipulate Festival before embarking on a nationwide tour. [Jump to tour listings]


📸 production photos: Mihaela Bodlovic

⏰ Run Time: 1 hr and 10 mins

🌳 Age Recommendation: 13+

⚠️ Content Warnings: Contains some violence and adult themes

📺 Watch the trailer for Ragnarok here:

Ragnarok 2024 Cast and Credits

Direction: Alex Bird

Performers/Devisers: Shakara Rose Carter, Emily Nicholl and Dylan Read 

Assistant Artist: Melanie Frances

Dramaturg: Nicola McCartney

Designer: Arran Howie

Lighting Designer: Simon Wilkinson 

Composer: Jim Harbourne

Production Manager: Elle Fraser 

Producer: Emma Stewart-Jones

Community Coordinator: Hannah Draper 

Build Assistance: Guy Bishop and Val Reid

Original Credits 

Direction: Ross MacKay and Arran Howie

Performers/Devisers: Alex Bird, Emma Jayne Park, Ella MacKay and Isabel Sharman

Assistant Director: Melanie Frances

Dramaturg: Nicola McCartney

Designer: Arran Howie

Lighting Designer: Simon Wilkinson 

Composer/Performer: Jim Harbourne

Production Manager: Fi Fraser

Technical Manager: Andy Gannon

Build Assistance: Kirsty Currie, Ben Whitney and Elspeth Chapman


Ragnarok Listings

◾ Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling - Saturday 3 February, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

◾ Manipulate Festival, Edinburgh - Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February, 8pm 

◾ Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock - Friday 16th 7.30pm and Saturday 17 February 2.30pm & 7.30pm

◾ Byre Theatre, St Andrews - Friday 23 February, 7pm

◾ Eden Court, Inverness - Tuesday 27th 7pm, & and Wednesday 28 February 1.30pm & 7pm

◾ Cumbernauld Theatre - Tuesday 5th 7.30pm and Wednesday 6 March 1pm & 7.30pm

◾ Lemon Tree, Aberdeen - Thursday 14th 7.30pm and Friday 15 March 10:30am & 7.30pm

◾ Platform, Glasgow - Wednesday 27th 7pm and Thursday 28 March 1pm


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.

📸 Find Lisa in the Theatre on Instagram for lots of photos, videos and fun stagey content

REVIEW: Ragnarok by Tortoise in a Nutshell and Figurteatret i Nordland, in association with Macrobert Arts Centre - World Premiere. Then Manipulate Festival and nationwide tour.

Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.


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