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Lionboy (Bristol)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Bristol Old Vic

Lionboy, the futuristic tale of Charlie Ashanti, a boy who can speak to cats in a world where a cure for asthma, developed by his now kidnapped scientist parents, is being stopped by profiteering pharmaceutical companies. This is not as extreme as it might at first seem. Adapted by Marcelo Dos Santos from the novels by Zizou Corder this is a wonderful moral maze for any young person. The many questions embroiled in Ashanti's journey to find his parents, and also help free the circus lions he meets en route, are attacked in this production by Complicite with energy, verve and commitment from the outset matching step for step his extraordinary quest.

Directed by Annabel Arden, Complicite are an outstanding company, they engage the senses with noise, imagination and sound. Creating something from what appears to be almost nothing. The dais that hangs from the rig lit as if it is part of a concert tilts and falls, whilst the projections on to it create animals, desert grass and so much more.

Once into its stride the performances come alive, Charlie, played by the utterly engaging Adetomiwa Edun leads us on his wonderful journey, helped along by the local cat Major Tib (Dan Milne), shadowed by the sinister Rafi (Robert Sadler). Lisa Kerr, as Nino, is the unlikely jewel in the Turkish delight box but triumphs for the sake of the future and the appearance of Sergei (Clive Mendus) a fine comic touch.

This is a great company effort, the onstage music is perfectly atmospheric and moody Stephen Hiscock with a design from Jon Bausor that allows a boat, a big top, a hot air balloon and more to entrance the audience. The reception heralded their first full length show a family hit.

- Petra Schofield


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