"Story telling at its best"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 15/10/19

Renewing her relationship with Michael Morpurgo, Dale Rooks once again directs with this new production of Anna Ledwich’s adaptation of “The Butterfly Lion”. Following the huge success in 2015 with “Running Wild” this latest production is enchanting its audiences.

The tale is inspired not only by Morpurgo’s chance £4 purchase of a book on the beautiful rare white lions of Timbavati but also the sight of a hillside chalk horse and his own lonely experience of boarding school, from which he ran away.
South African born Bertie lives on an African farm where the area is teeming with wildlife but then his father shoots a lioness, Bertie adopts the young orphaned white lion cub who quickly becomes his closest friend. Shortly before he reaches the age of 10 he is abruptly torn from his beloved mother and lion cub and sent to school in England, forcing him to leave his adored feline friend. Finding it hard to adjust to his harsh boarding school life, he befriends an equally lonely Millie and yearns for his idolised lion cub, now caged and banished to life in a French circus. This remarkable journey of loss, loneliness, memory, hope and love eventually sees all three of them reunited.
The creative team of Simon Higlett (Designer) and Simon Wainwright (Video Designer) have excelled with their striking achievement and visually stunning production. Minimal staging, dominated by one marvellously twisted tree, allows for incredible effects from the video projections both on the floor and backdrop creating wonderful settings for the talented ensemble and Nick Barnes’ spectacular puppetry.

This fine cast and dazzling puppets bring the characterisation to life. Lucas Button’s manipulation of the animals is exceptional. Rudi Millard, a member of the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre shines as Nathaniel as does Matilda Shapland as the young Millie. Nicola Sloane brings great warmth to her role as the mature Millie. An outstanding performance from Archie Elliot as young Bertie brilliantly illustrating the fervour he has for his young cub, the unfairness of the world and in his developing relationship with Millie. Adam Buchanan plays the mature Bertie admirably encompassing such loss and endurance while never losing sight of his dreams.
This exquisite, captivating and enchanting production truly dazzles with its own special magic.

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