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Lionboy (Tour - Oxford)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Oxford Playhouse

Complicite returned to the Oxford Playhouse this week for the first time in over a decade, with their first family orientated production – an adaptation of Zizou Corder's trilogy, Lionboy.

After the company's recent extraordinary production of the supposedly unadaptable The Master and Margarita, hopes and expectations were high for their latest tackling.

Marcelo Dos Santos' adaptation compresses the thousand or so pages of text into two swift hours of stage time, however suffering from pacing issues – some scores flew past without any real attempt at explanation, just having to get past point B to get to C while others seem to dwell on for far too long.

The cast, a team of eight, were led by Adetomiwa Edun as Charlie Ashanti ("the boy who can speak cat"). Otherwise everyone does as best as they can with the material on offer, however there were far too many "now we run in a circle" moments for my liking.

The biggest fault I had with this production is simply that it did not feel like Complicite, it had more of the feel of an expansive TIE piece or the RSC's productions for "Young People" than something we would expect from such a ground-breaking company as Complicite.

All too often theatrical gimmicks were used to drive a point home and, while there were glimpses of the Complicite we are used to and generally adore, most of the time it was a sorry mess.

Overall, it felt like a wasted opportunity and probably a genre Complicite would stay away from in the future. They have a marvellous niche, however this is not it.

- Daniel Whitley


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