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Theatre Review: The Butterfly Lion - Theatre Royal, Glasgow ✭✭✭



Bringing a touch of Africa to autumn's chill in Glasgow is the stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's book The Butterfly Lion. It tells the tale of a remarkable boy and his enduring love for the white lion he rescues from certain death as a child. Visually striking, the play features puppets to help capture the audience's imagination. The white lion puppet becomes majestic in the hands of Lloyd Notice who gives it an enduring presence.

The story moves in time flitting between the 1900s, 50s and the Great War as well as the varied locations of Wiltshire, the South African veld and France. These transitions result in the cast playing multiple roles with ensemble cast milling around the edges of the stage often surplus to requirements which becomes distracting. 

Adam Buchanan embodies the personality and energy of a 10 year old, making the audience forget entirely that he's not 10 with perhaps a touch of over-exuberance at times. However, his portrayal of Bertie as a small boy clinging to the gate peering hopefully into the world is very emotive and sure to set the parents of the families in the audience gazing at their children beside them hoping they can stay little just a bit longer. Gwen Taylor steals the piece with her engaging performance as Millie effortlessly swapping between child and adult. 

There are a few moments where the pace slows significantly and younger members of the audience began to fidget. Any generation brought up on the Lion King can't help but make comparisons between these two productions and there are some scenes that more than echo the distinctive Disney classic. That said, the story of Bertie and his lion is captivating as only the love of a child and an animal can be and the production brings a little bit of African magic onto the stage.  

The Butterfly Lion is at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow until Saturday 2nd November. For tickets and information visit www.atgtickets.com/glasgow


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