Back With A Roar: Lionboy At Tricycle Theatre

Ruth Hargreaves
By Ruth Hargreaves Last edited 46 months ago
Back With A Roar: Lionboy At Tricycle Theatre ★★★★☆ 4

Lionboy by Complicite at the Tricycle Theatre

Directed by: Clive Mendus and James Yeatman
Design: Jon Bausor
Co-Designer: Jean Chan
Original Lighting Designer: Tim Mascall
Lighting Designer (Revival): Christopher Nairne
Sound Designer: Tom Gibbons
Associate Sound Designer: Pete Malkin
Movement: Clive Mendus and Kasia Zaremba-Byrne
Based on the original concept and production by: Annabel Arden

Femi Elufowoju, jr;
Victoria Gould;
Martins Imhangbe;
Lisa Kerr;
Angel Lopez-Silva;
Eric Mallett;
Clive Mendus;
Dan Milne
and Stephen Hiscock (music and percussion).
Martins Imhangbe as Charlie

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

A lovely sunburst of a show for ages 8+, Lionboy is high energy, high octane and comes with some pretty high and mighty moral messages too.

The tale (based on Zizou Corder’s fantasy trilogy) is set in a future where companies are more powerful than countries. The story itself revolves around a young boy called Charlie Ashanti (played with heart, soul and gusto by Martins Imhangbe) who returns home one day to find his parents kidnapped, seemingly at the hands of the all-powerful Corporacy.

But what do the Corporacy want with Charlie’s parents? He’s determined to find out and thus far we’re comfortable: honourable young boy, absent parents, evil corporation — we’ve got it. Except we haven't, because apparently Charlie can also speak to cats and pretty soon we’re on a boat to Venice accompanied by a madcap circus troupe, a pride of lions, a mangy cat called Sergei and a wide boy named Rafi with bright red shoes.

Lionboy is crammed full of juicy characters for us to sink our teeth into and as we travel across oceans, the cast smartly evolve to play ever more characters. This is the work of award-winning theatre company Complicite, who fuse storytelling, circus and live music to tell such adventures.

The set itself is smart too, with artful use of props creating this topsy turvy world in which Charlie finds himself. Boxes become staircases, ladders become heavy duty machinery and drums become video screens on which the Corporacy’s messages play. Noise is also used to great effect with live on-stage percussionist Stephen Hiscock building tension, wreaking havoc and performing a good old-fashioned knees-up at all the right moments.

For kids, it’s a lot of fun. Moments where the cast come down into the audience leave the little ones wide-eyed and slack-jawed with pleasure, while the basic story line is engaging and easy to follow. But adults and older children can also appreciate the strong moral messages about pharmaceutical companies, the struggle between scientific advancement and moral compromise, and the importance of individual expression.

Lionboy is at Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road, NW6 7JR until 10 January 2015. Running time is approximately two hours including an interval. Tickets cost £16-£23.50 with family group rates available. Londonist saw this play on a complimentary review ticket.

Last Updated 19 December 2014