The Butterfly Lion – Barn Theatre REVIEW

I fell in love with this with the moment I read it in the school library at lunch. At aged 8 it felt like my first “big girl book”. A heart warming and bittersweet story of love, loss and friendship.

Michael Morpurgo is a wonderful author so when he says that a production is so good that people should see it rather than buying his book you know it must be quite something!

The Barn Theatre have done it again. They’ve picked up the audience and welcomed us into a magical world that they’ve cleverly created with a whole host of ingenious techniques.

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Their storytelling is second to none, probably the best I’ve ever witnessed. They gently guide you through the story, making you laugh, cry and most importantly feel and believe. I never thought I’d feel so strongly about a white lion puppet or believe with such conviction that two sets of tongs and wooden spoon is a giraffe at a watering hole.

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It all sounds bonkers when you say that aloud but it makes sense because Built By The Barn are the epitome of theatre magic. They transport you to the plains of Africa, to a haunted house, to a boarding school canteen. There is no limits they don’t push and no storytelling method they haven’t played with.

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It’s so clear to see the layers of process in this production, how it’s been a labour of love. How they’ve tried and tested and discovered clever and unique ways of doing things. The love the company and actors they have for the production is so infectious you can’t help but fall in love as well.

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Jasper William Cartwright strongly led the cast hopping between his roles of Michael and Bertie. He was able to expertly switch between young and old with his childness so endearing and soldier strength unshakeable. Facial expressions and movement were spot on and simple enchanting to behold.

The rest of the small cast, six in total, were just as remarkable, each facilitating a simple yet clever set and playing multiple characters.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Built By the Barn team never cease to amaze me. I’ll always make the two hour journey in rush hour traffic to see their productions. A real force to be reckoned with.

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