I Believe in Unicorns
Storytelling with a serious message
This article is from 2013.
The former children's laureate and writer of over 100 books, Michael Morpurgo returns to two of his recurring themes – the horrors of wartime and the majesty of the equine breed – in this 2005 story about the importance of storytelling. The action takes place in a library as two adults recall their childhood in a village under threat from book-burning fascists. The set is beautifully constructed, with actors Danyah Miller and Michael Imerson working in and around stacks of books. From between their covers explodes a bounty of props to conjure up fantastical narratives as well as serious accounts of military invasions. Care is taken to show that it's not just books, the physical objects, that have magical properties, but stories themselves, as the script interacts nicely with unicorn mythology and deftly references creation myths. The message has topical relevance at a time when local libraries are under threat. The play manages to capture the enchantment of storytelling while incorporating a sense of danger from external forces. This production requires a good attention span and a level of maturity probably not possessed by children under ten.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 26 Aug (not 12), 11.45am, £7–£9 (£6–£8.50).