Review: Wizard Presents I Believe In Unicorns, available for streaming on demand via the Oxford Playhouse . Book here.
[Disclosure: The Oxford Playhouse provided me with a ticket for the purposes of this review.]
I thought that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy this production too much because the age range starts at 6 and I am 12. I thought that I would have to watch it from the perspective of a younger person to really enjoy it. I thought wrong. This play is perfect for anyone, no matter how old or young! It combines a beautiful set with the simple magic of story-telling to create a wonderful show.
I Believe in Unicorns was adapted from the book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo. In the post- show Q+A session with Michael Morpurgo and actor, Danyah Miller, I found out that the story is actually based on real-life events. At a boring prize giving ceremony in the Kremlin in Russia, Michael Morpurgo watched a Russian librarian win an award for saving the books in his library, by carrying them out of the burning building.
I Believe in Unicorns is a one-person show created by Danyah Miller and her team including the amazing set design by Kate Bunce. You can read my interview with Danyah here. The story follows a young boy called Tomas and his discovering a love of books and stories. It follows Tomas when his village is bombed and the library burns down. The show also includes a story about an army burning a pile of books – which Michael Morpurgo told us in the Q&A session was taken from what the Nazis did to keep knowledge and the ability to ask questions from people.
As Danyah tells the story, she uses props and objects that she pulls, almost magically, out of the books surrounding her on the stage. Sometimes, the pages of the books act as a screen onto which beautiful images or animations are projected. When the village is bombed, fire is projected onto stacks of books topped by a pop-up book house. This is done with so much thought and detail that the fire almost looks real.
I Believe in Unicorns was an incredible play with a beautiful message behind it; that stories and books are the key to knowledge and understanding of our world.
As I mentioned, after the play, there was a post-show talk via zoom, with Danyah Miller and Michael Morpurgo, where they answered questions from the audience. I would just like to mention the vivid and captivating stories that Michael Morpurgo told in answer to some of the questions, they were incredibly beautiful and moving - thank you.
Young reviewer, Charlotte Trichard, age 12, has been going to the theatre regularly since she was a baby. She is looking forward to going back to the theatre when things open up. Charlotte loves fencing and she plays the piano.
Photo Credit: The Other Richard