Unicorn Theatre, London – until 5 March 2017
Guest reviewer: Joe Weinberg
Unicorn Theatre’s magical production of The Iron Man is simply oozing with creativity. Adapted from the Ted Hughes novel of the same name, the simple story follows an iron giant who befriends a young boy, and must help save the world from a monstrous alien creature. However, Hughes’ story, lovely though it may be, is not what makes this production so captivating. The man behind the magic is the show’s creator, Matthew Robins, who is responsible for the wide range of artistic storytelling methods employed in the 50-minute production. The show contains minimal words, instead utilizing puppetry, water color animation, live-streaming, music, and sculpture to create the play’s enchanting world.
Despite being geared toward young audiences, the production does not pander to them at all. It’s tinged with darkness and sophistication, with a tone that’s ominous as often as it is charming. I even felt a pang of fear upon the first appearance of the story’s extra-terrestrial villain. And indeed, adults may appreciate the intelligent stagecraft just as much as (if not more than) the children. One rarely sees a theatrical production so successfully embrace and incorporate several visual art forms. Yet even with the abundance of imaginative stage effects, the show does not muddle up the story, nor does it feel overly busy. It gives each moment its due, allowing the production both to satisfy its audience, and leave us wanting more.