After the exceptional fun of Baddies the Musical this winter, the Unicorn has become a firm favourite of Culture Whisperers young and old. The London Bridge children's theatre is known for unpatronising, witty writing, so the announcement of a Greek Season was an exciting prospect.
Unfortunately, The Minotaur isn't up to the Unicorn's usual high standards. It has a confusing script and weak characters which, even when weighed leniently against the complex historical material of the play, was a little disappointing.
The Unicorn Theatre’s adaptation of Greek myth, Theseus and the Minotaur, begins with a lonely minotaur - a powerful mythical creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man - who is joined occasionally in his labyrinth by his sister Ariande (Anna Elijasz).
Ariande is supposed to love her minotaur brother, but in this adaptation she doesn’t seem so sure. She sometimes loves him, sometimes taunts him. Likewise, she sometimes loves Theseus (Theo Solomon); who arrives in Crete to settled a debt between his father, King of Athens (Ben Adams), and her father, the King of Crete (Rupert Holliday Evans). But then sometimes she hates him. And then she loves him again. She never holds onto one emotion long enough for the implications of her emotions to take root.
In an attempt to stop the King of Crete (Ben Adams) from brutally murdering fourteen children from Athens, Theseus sails to Athens to fight the Minotaur, which he can only do with Ariande’s help.
The end of the play is as ambiguous as Ariadne's feelings - Thesus can’t decide whether to raise white flags on the ship, which will let his father know he is returned victorious, or use the black flags and slip into Athens unseen. It feels incongruous for Theseus to suddenly question his father. Then Ariadne falls asleep for some unexplained reason, and the King of Crete kills himself.
The staging is very well done. Reminiscent of a Roman amphitheatre or a Greek senate, the audience look down from all sides at the action, allowing both Kings to appeal to their ‘people’ as they might in ancient times.
The children of the audience, gripped at first by the tension mounted by dramatic lighting and atmospheric sounds, clearly enjoyed being asked by the Kings to vote on the trustworthiness of characters and it is as stroke of genius by the director (Louie Whitmore) to ask the children to volunteer themselves to be the Minotaur's victims. These interactive moments and the haunting lighting are typical of Unicorn theatre's originality and bravery. Unfortunately, a somewhat confused script meant that come the end of the action, the children - like the grown ups - looked somewhat bored and confused.
Unicorn Theatre Workshops
Parents should keep an eye out for the post-show workshop that explores myths and legends, offering kids the chance to join the ranks of Zeus and Medusa with some dramatic games as part of the Up Club. Click here to read more.
Myths and Legends: Unicorn Family Events: 13th of February and the 26th and 29th of March
Limited special showings include a legendary after-show games workshop, exploring Myths and Legends through some truly dramatic games. Children create their own Godly symbol and join the ranks of Zeus and Medusa. Click here for more information.
Suitable for ages 8-14
|What||Minotaur, Unicorn Theatre review|
|Where||The Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley St, London, SE1 2HZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
24 Jan 16 – 02 Apr 16, Show times vary
|Website||Click here to book via the Unicorn Theatre|