Last Updated on 7 June 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team
The new season of children’s shows at London’s Unicorn Theatre features adaptations of Gulliver’s Travels, Emily Hughes’ Wild and Julian Clary’s The Bolds
The Unicorn Theatre has revealed its new season featuring five world premieres including Julian Clary’s adaptation of his book, The Bolds.
Other live shows coming to the London theatre include Marvin’s Binoculars about birdwatching and the joys of the great outdoors, created by the Unicorn’s artistic director, Justin Audibert
There will also be an adventure-filled modern adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, an adaptation of Emily Hughes’ picture book Wild and the return of the popular Baby Show.
The season also includes an audio adventure around Southwark from theatre-makers Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari and a new collaboration with English National Ballet on a dance film, Let Loose.
As previously announced, the Unicorn is also co-producing Anansi the Spider, based on West African and Caribbean folk tales, to be performed on the lawn at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
It was announced on Friday that the Unicorn, which specialises in theatre for children, has teamed up with the National Theatre on Story Seekers. This new nationwide creative literacy project for primary schools will set children on a mission to find, tell and share important stories for this time, culminating in the creation of their own filmed storytelling performances to share with their school community and beyond.
After the success of Unicorn Online which streamed content for free during lockdown, this new season will be a mix of live indoor theatre, outside work and digital performance.
Audibert said: “I am so excited to be welcoming audiences back to the Unicorn Theatre, alongside continuing our digital productions and working with extraordinary partners like Regent’s Park Theatre, National Theatre Learning, the World Wide Fund for Nature and English National Ballet to take our work into schools and to other parts of London.
“I am proud to present this exciting, innovative and thrilling season of shows, particularly at a time when children are in need of creative, imaginative and hopeful experiences more than ever.”
Marvin’s Binoculars, written by Audibert, is a fun and topical new show about a young boy who loves nature and exploring all the parks around his home in London. Directed by Hannah Quigley, it will tour round London primary schools from 7 June to 9 July. Designed by Samuel Wyer, the touring production will feature three performers and two stage managers travelling by electric van with set and props. A digital version will be available to stream online for free from 10 June in partnership with The Guardian. A production will also be performed at the theatre in spring 2022.
Unicorn Theatre’s popular Baby Show, presented in association with Theatr Iolo, returns from 15 June to 4 July. Having played to over 5,000 babies since 2016, this beautifully conceived and expertly created show is a perfect first theatre experience, gently exploring the joys and the fun of getting ready and exploring the outside. It is a musical and sensory performance with captivating images and intriguing sounds that keeps eager, curious young minds engaged. Performed by Kevin Lewis and Hannah Boyde, it was created by its director, Sarah Argent, and Kevin Lewis and is designed by Verity Quinn.
Anansi The Spider, created and directed by Audibert, will run at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 7 to 24 July, with design by Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and music and sound design by Duramaney Kamara. This lively and playful show for children aged six and upwards was first staged at the Unicorn in 2019 and was “re-spun” as a series of digital films during the pandemic.
Julian Clary’s adaptation of his best-selling children’s book, The Bolds, will run over Christmas at the Unicorn from 14 November to 31 December, with press night on 24 November. With live music and songs by Clary and Simon Wallace, it tells the story of a family of laughing hyenas living quietly in Teddington. It is directed by Lee Lyford and designed by James Button and is suited to ages six and upwards.
The adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels will run at the Unicorn from 6 March to 17 April 2022, with press night on 16 March. Based on Swift’s surreal stories, it is written by Lulu Raczka and directed by Jaz Woodcock-Stewart, using video camera, intricate table-top sets and projection alongside live performance to create a playful, funny and highly inventive show that explores reality and escapism, home and family, and the power of stories to transform our view of the world. It is aimed at ages seven and upwards.
Emily Hughes’ picture book, Wild, has been adapted by theatre company How It Ended, running from 11 March to 17 April 2022, with press day on 18 March. Aimed at ages two to six, it tells the story of Wild whose home is the forest. Bears teach her how to eat, birds help her to speak, and foxes show her how to play. She is irrepressibly wild. Then one day, some new animals arrive. They look oddly like her – and they want to take Wild away. But what if she was happy where she was? This energetic story, told with atmospheric sound, movement and puppetry, celebrates the free spirit in all of us.
The short dance film Let Loose comes out of a new collaboration with English National Ballet and will be directed by Unicorn associate artist Rachel Bagshaw and choreographed by Arielle Smith. It will be available to stream for free online in partnership with The Guardian. Further details will be announced soon.
Further details are also still to be announced about Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari’s audio adventure around Southwark in July.