No, this play does not star Robert Downey Jr. as Marvel's superhero. On at the Unicorn Theatre this February (and running through February half term) is an adaptation of Ted Hughes' The Iron Man.
This 1968 science-fiction novel features the sudden arrival of a giant machine-eating metal-man who befriends a little boy and ultimately saves humanity from a "Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon" who wants to devour the world. Director and designer Matthew Robins combines a mixture of live animation, puppetry, and paper silhouettes for charming, family-friendly production.
After eating the local farmer's machinery, the Iron Man is buried in a deep hole below the earth to prevent him from further destruction. When he manages to escape, a concerned child suggests that the community, instead of killing the Iron Man, send him to live in a junk-yard utopia where he'll no longer be of concern.
All seems swell. That is until massive dark creature crashes heavily onto Earth and demands to be provided with food. In order to save mankind, the Iron Man challenges the monster to a contest of strength. He ultimately wins the battle and, as a result, the monster (who is actually quite peaceful at heart) is forced to sing to the people of Earth every night.
The clever set design is the star of the show. The stage opens with a cardboard robot giant with bulb eyes, who soon shrinks to a medium and then little version of himself. As the story progresses, the protagonist switches back and forth between these three sizes. Nima Taleghani’s narration starts off slow and begins catching momentum throughout. In the meanwhile, the various versions of the Iron Man are directed around the stage by puppeteers in black.
Although the puppeteers are distracting at times, the lo-fi production makes for a pleasant diversion from our increasingly high-tech lives. The back-to-basics method of storytelling makes for an enchanting theatrical production of a once-feared iron giant who helps an impulsively violent, egotistic civilization find peace. A lovely lesson for the modern age.
Recommended for ages 4-8
|What||The Iron Man review, Unicorn Theatre|
|Where||The Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley St, London, SE1 2HZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
24 Jan 17 – 05 Mar 17, Show times vary
|Price||£8 - £18|
|Website||Click here to book tickets via Unicorn Theatre|