The Butterfly Lion has begun a new run at The Broadway Theatre through until Saturday November 30 and the opening night audience loved it.
I must admit I wasn’t hugely familiar with the Michael Morpurgo story The Butterfly Lion and confess that once the show started I still wasn’t sure if it was going to be entirely for me, but I left The Broadway thoroughly converted.
Having seen the incredible War Horse on stage it was clear to see there are similar themes running through this story but it is much more gentle, yet still highly emotive, and more suitable for a younger audience.
Already familiar to many youngsters who’ve read the book the audience was a real mixed bag of age ranges but it’s certainly a show families can appreciate.
Coronation Street actress Gwen Taylor (Millie) recounts the tale of lonely young boy Bertie to another young boy, Michael, a runaway who comes to her house in a storm as he tries to escape the boarding school he loathes.
We cross back and forth in time as the story of Bertie’s life in Africa unfolds and the enchanting tale of how he rescues and befriends a rare white lion cub, orphaned when his father shoots a lioness to protect his cattle on their farm.
Michael becomes engrossed in Millie’s tale of how Bertie and the white lion forge a lasting friendship which endures the lion cub being sold to the circus, Bertie being sent to boarding school in England and later taking to the trenches in WWI before they’re finally reunited.
In a similar vein to War Horse, Butterfly Lion makes use of puppetry and despite it being in a far simpler form it’s still effective and surprisingly expressive. The acting is superb particularly Adam Buchanan as Michael/Bertie who perfectly captures the mannerisms of a much younger boy.
Before you know it you’ve been drawn into an engaging tale which has taken you on a rollercoaster of emotions and if you don’t already know the story, will hit you with some twists at the end. Including the reason for the title The Butterfly Lion which is touchingly explained.
There’s tragedy, humour and warmth in this producton which takes you from Africa to France and England in an ultimately uplifting piece of theatre.
In the midst of the fabulous run of musicals coming to The Broadway in this short season, The Butterfly Lion offers a change of pace that will please children and adults alike – go see it!
Box office: 01733 822225 or www.kenwright.com