Please note that this post does contain some plot spoilers! Those unfamiliar with the story proceed at your own risk!
One of the important supporting character(s) in the story of Coraline in the original novel (and also this adaptation) are the Rats. These are unpleasant, vicious creatures that do the Other Mother’s bidding. They also sing several verses of a song, one excerpt of which appears below:
We are small but we are many
We are many we are small
We were here before you rose
We will be here when you fall
One image I shared with the cast and crew to help get their imaginations going about the rats is this deeply unsettling painting by HR Giger:
In this production we’re exploring further what the Rats really are and their relationship to the Other Mother. What is their function? I posit that they’re much more than mere rats; they’re some sort of amorphous, dark, destructive force. At least one of the characters in the Other World later turns out to have been constructed from or made of the Rats. All of their songs are about hunger, viciousness, and a terrible patience. When Coraline asks Other Father about the rats, he says in the play “We like the rats,” and in the novel “The Rats are our friends.” But in this production, I think that Other Father says that rather nervously, as if worried that the rats might be listening.
Here’s my conspiracy theory about the Rats that we’re running with in this production. What we call “the Rats” in this world is actually some sort of conscious dark matter, a primeval darkness that existed before the big bang and will once again “rise” or “rule” when they have devoured the universe again as it reaches total entropy. They’re not that different from the critters in the Stephen King short story “The Langoliers”; they are responsible for the devouring or destruction of the unused and abandoned places of the world. Since they revel in suffering and destruction, it suits their purposes to aid the Other Mother for now, to serve as the building blocks with which she constructs her world and the Other People therein. But for how long? And what becomes of the Other Mother after she finally loses to Coraline and is trapped forever in the Other World, just her….and the Rats?
I’d like to take a page from Grimm and give our villain a truly dreadful end. I hope you’ll come and see it!
-Ed Rutherford, Director