The Cracked Pot

The play was first performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, in February 1995, with Barrie Rutter, John Branwell, Kate Rutter and June Broughton among the cast. A version of Heinrich von Kleist’s Der Zerbrochene Krug, normally translated as ‘The Broken Jug’, The Cracked Pot shifts the action from eighteenth-century Utrecht to Skipton, circa 1810. The plot concerns the breaking of a jug – its owner, Martha, believes the guilty party to be her daughter’s fiancé, and she wants the local judge, Adam, to have him convicted. But there are strong hints that Adam himself is to blame, and we watch him desperately shifting suspicion away from himself. Unfortunately for Adam, a visiting magistrate from Manchester is watching, too – will Adam get away with it? Kleist’s comedy has echoes of Oedipus, where the hero conducting the investigation is himself guilty of the crime, but the tone is resolutely comic.


Images from Northern Broadsides

After its run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 1995, the play went on tour the following year – and was revived again in 2001, when it toured with Oedipus .

In the following extract, from the opening scene, Adam tries to explain to his clerk how he came by the scratches on his face and the bruise on his forehead.

‘I trip, and pitch forrad, then clutch at t’air
Just like a bloke does when he’s daddly.
As I slip I make a grab for t’britches
Which I’ve hung on t’clothes-horse here to dry.
Two legs are dangling down like stirrups, see,
And I’ve got hold, I’m safe, I think, then rip,
They tear, t’saddle slips, clothes-horse panics and rears,
I’m clinging on for life under its belly,
Till wap, it hoofs me one here on t’nut,
And sends me galloping backwards, I’m flying
Through t’air again, no stopping me now I think,
Jerusalem here I come, when woomph, boomph,
I stop dead, I fetch up here on t’range
Just where yon goat’s sticking out his horns,
Not little nubs neither, more like antlers
They felt when they splundered into my skull.
Trampled underfoot by a clothes-horse
Then butted in t’head by a cast iron goat:
That’s me, mauled near to death by dead animals.

The complete text of the play was published by Samuel French in 1996. BUY HERE