Posts Tagged ‘Zizou Corder’


I’ve seen much of Complicite’s work but I think this is their first family show, and it struck me how well suited their style is to the material. It’s also very refreshing to have seasonal fare that entertains without patronising young people, treating them as intelligent thinking beings!

I’m not familiar with the Zizou Corder’s novels from which this is adapted (the name conjures up some East European Philip Pullman or Michael Morpugo, but it turns out to be the pen name of a mother and her young daughter!). Charlie Ashanti (the Lionboy) is the son of eminent scientists who appear to have been abducted, and he sets out on a journey to find them. He encounters a circus where he earns his nickname by freeing the lions. When he sets them free in Africa, he also finds the laboratories of the Corporacy who seem to be manufacturing health conditions in order to sell drugs and may have abducted Charlie’s parents lest they produce a drug-free cure.

The story is told with Complicite’s usual flair, conjuring up believable settings and situations with the bare minimum of props but the maximum imagination – a coat and hat turns someone into a circus-master or king, a few ladders create a prison – and outstanding performances. In addition to the adventure of Charlie’s journey, there is a strong moral / ethical narrative which, even though it conveys a clear view, does so with a degree of objectivity which does it great credit. In one scene, a boxing match is used as a device to debate a core issue, both entertaining and thought-provoking, which seems to me to be a great way to engage the young in real issues in the real world.

The contrast with the NT’s Treasure Island the day before was striking. Way less resources, much more lo-tech, but much better storytelling that captured the imaginations of its audience of all ages, who were extraordinarily quiet because they were captivated. More Christmas shows like this please!


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