Musical, humorous, good lighting

cast of unicorns

Derek Frood, Ben Worth and Cerianne Roberts believing in unicorns

I Believe in Unicorns

Malvern Theatres


YET another wonderful tale by Michael Morpurgo, and a great adaptation by Daniel Jamieson.

 Theatre Alibi do a fantastic job of bringing Morpurgo’s characters to life, and it’s a real credit to actors Ben Worth, Cerianne Roberts and Derek Frood that they are able not only to convincingly play the piece’s vast range of characters between the three of them, but to also do this seamlessly and without ever leaving the stage.

I Believe in Unicorns is promoted as a play for 6-12 year olds, but I would recommend the production to anyone over the age of six, as it has so much to offer to anyone whether child or adult. Although the central character, Tomas, is looking back to his childhood, the intertwined themes of this tale can be appreciated by audiences of all ages, and Morpurgo once again blends humour, wonder and high emotion, weaving stories within stories and taking us on an encThomas Johnsonhanting yet moving journey through peaceful snowy mountain sledging, wartime tragedy and just about everything in between.

There is an incredible amount crammed in to this one hour performance, with tales from Noah’s ark, memories of book burning, explorations of friendship, a beautiful retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl complete with match girl puppet, stories of narwhals, and of course unicorns.

Thomas Johnson (pictured)  deserves a special mention for his fantastic live musical accompaniment to the whole production, and it added greatly to the show having him sitting on stage amongst the performers as he played a variety of instruments from guitar to accordion to violin, sometimes using a loop pedal to layer the different sounds on top of each other.

I loved the different relationships between various characters, and there were sweet touches such as the moment when Tomas’s father assured his son that he wasn’t crying, the cold wind had simply made his eyes water. There were a few moments in the play where I could feel that cold wind making my eyes water too.

My ten year old assistant reviewer noted that the piece was ‘musical’, ‘humorous’ and had ‘good lighting’. My thirteen year old covered a page with randomly scribbled yet effusive key words and phrases. Without ruining the plot, he seemed to sum up the production and its mood fabulously. ‘Dramatic’, ‘girl in mud’, ‘homemade bread’, ‘Tintin books’, ‘death’, ‘smelly’, ‘clever hidden things’, ‘poor books’, ‘unicorn lady’, ‘hot chocolate’, ‘war changes everything’, ‘wow’ and ‘YOLO’ – I imagine Michael Morpurgo’s notes before starting the story must have looked fairly similar.

I love the way Morpurgo sneaks serious messages and themes into works which are entertaining and fun, and this adaptation, which Morpurgo himself refers to as ‘magical’, captures and adapts Morpurgo’s words and worlds beautifully. The set design with multi-functional unicorn in central position works perfectly. I could go on but am running out of superlatives. Just go and see it.

I Believe in Unicorns  is playing in Malvern at various times over the next few days to suit everyone with children . . .  or without. To 2-5-15.

Amy Rainbow



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