A contemporary retelling of a classic Hans Christian Andersen story is to be the Unicorn theatre’s Christmas show this year. Duck!, a witty family show based on The Ugly Duckling, runs in the London Bridge venue from 1 December-27 January (press night 11 December).
Written by Philip Osment and inspired by Andersen’s fairy tale, Duck! is set on Hampstead Heath, North London, and tells the story of Ugly. In a world of pretty young ducks he is big, grey and…ugly. Fed up with being the butt of the jokes on the pond he strikes out on his own, looking for a warmer welcome elsewhere. As winter draws in he hooks up with a couple of street-wise outlaw geese, joins a cat and a hen at a spiritual retreat and nearly wrecks a family’s Christmas.
Kazoos, wellies and rubber rings combine with live music by Tom Johnson to create a witty show suitable for theatregoers aged seven and over.
Rosamunde Hutte, Associate Artistic Director of the Unicorn and director of last year’s Journey To The River Sea, directs a cast that comprises Liam Lane, Richard Sumitro, John O’Mahony, Hazel Maycock, Adam Baxter, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Inika Leigh Wright, Ruby Aspinall and Sefa Steer.
The prolific Danish writer and storyteller Andersen was the author of fairy tales including The Little Match Girl, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Snow Queen and The Ugly Duckling, which was first published in 1843. The bicentenary of Andersen’s birth was celebrated around the world in 2005.
Meanwhile this Christmas, the Unicorn’s studio space welcomes Little Angel puppet theatre with a show for children aged two and over, Handa’s Surprise. Adapted from the book by Eileen Browne, Little Angel uses wooden puppets, props, traditional instruments and rousing African songs to transport the audience to Kenya. Handa is taking a basket of delicious fruits to the next village as a surprise for her best friend. But along the way a mischievous collection of animals have other plans for the plump, ripe fruit.
Handa’s Surprise runs from 11-30 December in the Unicorn’s Clore theatre.