- Gareth K Vile
- 20 August 2019
Fascism disguised with a fluffy tail
Resting on a fascinating, if counter-intuitive, conceit that the rise of the unicorn in popular culture is a sinister authoritarian plot, Unicorn Party is neatly divided into two parts. A rough history of the mythical beast, full of footnotes and versions of the unicorn from across the world, gives way to a darker finale, in which the unicorn state is established and human agency is reduced to subservience. While the script is never less than fascinating, the connection between these two themes is never quite resolved.
Nick Field's style is conversational, circling the lecture format with interludes of personal anecdotes. His addiction to sugar is traced back to the fluffy unicorn of meme and YouTube, and the revelation of unicorn fascism comes from a bizarre report of a secret cave being discovered in North Korea. This bridge from the fantastic to fake news drives a reflection on a new conspiracy theory, insisting that unicorns have been behind the sugar trade and are finally taking over.
Field's delivery is tentative, and certain scenes - the bit with the sex toys, for example - privilege comedy over the narrative drive. Yet the visual impact of Field's first appearance, clad in a terrifying black uniform, the intriguing details he has unearthed from historical texts and the good humour of the delivery ensure that Unicorn Party entertains without necessarily making its political subtext forceful.
Zoo Playground, until 26 Aug, 6.50pm, £10 (£9).