LIONBOY To 21 February.

Bury St Edmunds/Colchester.

from the novels by Zizou Corder adapted by Marcelo Dos Santos.

Theatre Royal 6 Westgate Street IP33 1QR To 13 February.
Tue-Fri 7.30pm Mat Wed & Thu 2pm.
TICKETS: 01284 769505.

then Mercury Theatre Balkerne Gate CO1 1PT 17-21 February 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 01206 573948.
(followed by international tour.

Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 February.

Animal magic in theatrical revival.
With London’s Barbican nudging Told By An Idiot and Forced Entertainment towards work for the young, and Complicite’s self-propulsion to this piece for 8+, experimental companies are opening up new theatrical worlds for young audiences.

Complicite has long found theatrical inspiration working with texts by writers off the Euro-mainstream; behind the name Zizou Corder, author of the three Lionboy novels, lies a mother-and-daughter combo, their tale-spinning begun at bath-times.

So it’s hardly surprising the overall narrative quest is a young person’s search for his parents, and in the international process of finding them, new understanding of what is meant by home.

Complicite were clearly struck with the books and have reworked their original 2013 adaptation, with some cast members returning to their roles, others taking on new characters, Clive Mendus combining a new role with co-directing, and some completely new performers. The result is a colourfully kaleidoscopic piece of fluent theatricality, which manages, through skilful performances and staging, to glide over the plot elisions inevitable in turning three adventure stories into one reasonable-length dramatic action.

Published in 2003-2006, the books are set in the future, and aptly their time has come. With the Western world at the TTipping-point where governments could be about to sign effective control of legislation to international business, there’s ironic truth in dodgy youth Rafi saying his money comes from drugs – the legal kind. For world pharmacy is discovered to be manufacturing illness in the final dystopic scenes where computer-locked laboratories, created with vivid simplicity, become a prison for animals and dissident humans, making The Hundred and One Dalmatians’s Cruella de Vil seem very small meat.

Against all this is Charlie – child or youth – and his particular ‘superpower’, the ability to talk the language of cats small and great. It’s animal power that fights off inhumanity, whether of corporate pharmacy or uncaring lion-taming (there’s the inevitable circus along the way).

All told in the swirl of a theatrical style that brings order out of the apparent confusion created in the opening minutes by a whirl of introductions, it sweeps audience members along in its exhilarating course.

Maccomo/Aneba Ashanti: Femi Elufowoju, jr.
Madame Barbue/Magdalen Start: Victoria Gould.
Charlie Ashanti: Martins Imhangbe.
Pirouette/Ninu: :isa Kerr.
Rafi Sadler: Angel Lopez-Silva.
Sergei/Sigi: Eric Mallett.
Chief Executive/Hercule: Clive Mendus.
Mr Ubsworth/Major Tib/King Boris: Dan Milne.
Percussionist: Stephen Hiscock.

Directors: Clive Mendus, James Yeatman.
Original director: Annabel Arden.
Designers: Jon Bausor, Jean Chan.
Lighting: Tim Mascall, Christopher Nairne.
Sound: Tom Gibbons.
Movement: Clive Mendus, Kasia Zaremba-Byrne.
Associate sound: Pete Malkin.
Creative associate: Annie Castledine.

2015-02-11 12:44:50

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