Monday 10 December 2007

Duck!, The Unicorn Theatre, Tooley Street, Central London

Retelling of the Ugly Duckling parable set on Hampstead Heath and interwoven with a story about two children from a broken home. This imaginative play has some powerful messages about rejection and self-realisation for the target audience of kids aged seven and above. Although it has a few sluggish moments, there are also some very memorable scenes, such as the ugly duckling's encounter with two jive-talking geese who have formed their own gang and Celtic queen Boudicca, who clambers out of her grave to see off a fox who is about to devour the main character. The cast of eight have put a lot of effort into mimicking the mannerisms of the waterfowl they depict -their heads move in a staccato pattern and flap their arms when they get excited. They are also very versatile and energetic, playing perhaps two dozen characters between them, as well as singing and even playing the saxophone. The modernistic Unicorn theatre has bench-style seating, which isn't numbered, so it is best to get there early and aim to get near the unusual oval-shaped stage. Tickets for the first week cost just £5 each, but have now risen to £14.50 for adults and £9.50 for kids. Still good value for a two-hour performance, punctuated by an interval, that will keep most pre-teen children captivated. 8/10