Saturday, 7 April 2012

Review: The Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth, Unicorn


“All stories are based on some kind of truth”

The Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth haunts the campsite where nine-year-old Will and his four brothers have spent many a family holiday. And at the Unicorn Theatre near London Bridge, Matthew Lenton has devised a family-friendly, if not just a little spooky, adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s novel of the same name which provides a welcome opportunity for a family trip during the Easter holidays.

Will’s holiday is largely spent negotiating his pesky younger brothers and their Haribo-hiding ways and trailing in awe of his older brother Marty who is awfully fond of a ghost story, especially around the glowing rocks known locally as Captain Crow’s Teeth. But the tale of the angry pirate ghost searching for the 9 year old cabin boy who killed him 300 years ago lingers long in Will’s mind and as he happens to be 9 as well, he’s more than a little anxious.

The play is swift, over and done with in 60 minutes, but is beautifully done. A world of daring imagination is nicely evoked in the simplest of ways: a picnic table is inverted to become a bed for four, a duvet becomes the rippling waves of the sea. And there’s a neat parallel in the way that rational scientific explanations for the underwater phosphorescence are thrown up against imaginations run wild and childhood fears endlessly multiplied.

Alasdair Hankinson makes a hugely endearing Will, warmly inclusive and sensitively pitched, guiding us through the story and always ensuring he’s carrying the audience with him. Ashley Gerlach’s elder brother relishes tormenting his younger sibling with a hugely realistic glee and Cath Whitefield and Itxaso Moreno are masses of fun as the manic younger brothers. As the towering, black-clad Captain Crow, Miles Yekinni is suitably terrifying (though with a pet crow called Colin too) and several of the actors double up to great effect too.

Garance Marneur’s porthole-dominated set is darkly lit which provides ample room for atmospheric creepiness and the odd unexpected shock. But the action also comes out into the theatre as we join the party games at the Junior Disco and some lucky ladies get to experience Will trying out some cheesy chat-up lines. Altogether, lots of shiver-me-timber-tastic fun for children of any ages.

Running time: 60 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 15th April

Originally written for The Public Reviews

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