Liverpool Playhouse hosts Complicite's new family show about a boy on a mission to rescue his kidnapped parents
In Theatre, as in Literature, work written for children frequently appeals to adults as well. That said, with adaptations, there tends to be a lot more tell than show but fortunately, the programme opens up to provide an illustration as fascinating as this extravagant production.
It shows the journey of Charlie Ashanti, who, in traditional fashion (harking back to Victorian times, although with a nod to Star Wars), is on a quest to find his missing parents. And to bring down the evil Corporacy, in what seems to be a foolhardy attempt. It is his first adventure aboard the circus ship Circe where he earns the eponymous soubriquet.
On a cluttered stage, surmounted by a ring of lights surrounding a multi purpose canopy, events, though occasionally messily chaotic, are brought vividly to life with mime, stylized (and stylish) choreography, dazzling costumes, inventive use of props, lighting and music. Of course this is Complicite.
Adetomiwa Edun is splendid as the hero, and not half bad as a lion either, pitted against a triumvirate of villains: his dogged pursuer, Rafi Sadler (Robert Gilbert); the imposing Maccomo (Femi Elufoju Jr); Victoria Gould as the affable but sinister Corporacy CEO. In turn, he is gamely assisted by the elfin, athletic Lisa Kerr, trapeze artiste cum chameleon, Clive Medus as the tatty cat, Sergei (from Wigan) and the comically entertaining Dan Milne in all his guises, from fishmonger to King Boris.
It's down to saving the world and perhaps accomplished rather simplistically. However, rather than be subjected to preaching on the error of our non-ecological ways, we are gradually beguiled, via a nice sense of the ridiculous, which engendered a rousing pantomimic atmosphere, one to which the audience responded with heartfelt enthusiasm.
- Carole Baldock