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Unicorn Theatre, London

Flap your wings! Together we can do this.

If the avant-garde is concerned with innovative artistic experimentation and the social common good, the show will go down in history. It is the kind of event about which its audience will be proud to announce “I was there”.

The play follows the simple enough story of a little girl, Icka, who has rescued a little bird whom she names Tito and becomes her best friend, but the story is told with such artistry, magic, and dramatic intensity!

Initially, we follow her riding her bicycle through a charming animated landscape made of card-board houses and trees (no doubt recycled material), and more metaphorically, through the mundane and repetitive aspect of her life. Like us, she is scared of an uncertain future, as life brings good and bad surprises. She dreams about her lost mum whose death she finds it hard to come to terms with.

But the encounter with Tito brings the missing elements of poetry and wonder into her life, and the joy of looking after and caring for someone. That is, until Tito goes missing. Icka has then to set off on a mission over land and sea on her winged-bicycle to find him. After flying over the cities of Paris, New York and Istanbul, over the savannah of Africa, through the Northern lights and the star-illuminated sky, she finally finds him in a problematic situation she is unable to fix alone.

The scenes are amazingly palpable and feel very real indeed, as the animation is projected onto a screen, onto which evolve the cut-out figure of the characters in the story, as well as the beautifully crafted 3-D puppet of the bird, all thanks to the talent of John Horabin and Penny Layden. It is a delight to be able to see the mechanics at play, the magic literally uncovering before our very eyes. The music also adds to the emotional dimension of the play, combining acoustic guitar, sound effects, and perfectly-chosen extracts of contemporary tunes.

Solely powered by hands and feet pedals (thanks to the inventive engineering of Electric Pedals), which is put into action by the collective energy of the team on stage, the play actually applies what it believes in. There is indeed an urgent necessity for ecological solidarity in the face of ever increasing manifestations of climate changes. Ecological disasters are already affecting us today, but it will disturb our children and the children of our children to such an extent that it will make earth a much harder place to live on.

Ultimately, it is about remaining humble about our place in the world, about looking after each other, and the planet on which we live, for future generations to enjoy.

  • Children Theatre
  • Written and directed by Mark Arends
  • Unicorn Theatre, London
  • Until 19th April 2014
  • Age guide: adults and 8+
  • Review by Caroline Perret and Lucien Asbury-Perret (age 9)
  • 4 April 2014

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