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The Velveteen Rabbit

Published 26 March 2014

What’s it all about?

This tale by Margery Williams has been around for almost a century so, whether you’re two or 92, the chances are you’ll have heard the story of a much-loved toy rabbit who longs to be real.

If you haven’t, The Velveteen Rabbit follows the fluffy title character and his blossoming friendship with a young boy. They go everywhere together until one day, after years of playful adventures, his coat becomes shabby and full of germs, and the rabbit is forced to leave his loyal friend to fulfil his dream.

How do they tell the story?

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in hoping that the starring role would be taken by a carrot-loving creature with a short fluffy tail, drooping ears and the ability to command a stage like an experienced thespian. This wouldn’t have been possible of course, but we had the next best thing: actor Christian Roe. Dressed in a brown velvet jacket and polo neck jumper, his beard the closest thing he has to whiskers, Roe transforms himself through facial expressions and movement into the gregarious animal that goes from neglected plaything to the loyal companion of Syrus Lowe’s Boy.

Original choreography is beautifully combined with creative props to chart the pair’s adventures through stormy seas, inhabited jungles and leafy gardens. A blanket is transformed into an elephant, the turret of a castle becomes the body of a locomotive and a bed morphs into a sailing boat.

What did the kids like best?

Ask any of the little ones in the audience and no doubt you’ll get a response as long as the cookie monster’s shopping list. If suited and booted men on space hoppers didn’t bring a smile to their faces, a sprinkling of snow, feathers flying during a pillow fight, a pantomime-style game of hide and seek, and, for the slightly more sadistic young theatregoers, the poor rabbit being propelled out of beds and wheelbarrows certainly did the job.

In a nutshell?

An immensely creative and touching piece of theatre with stunning costumes and choreography that appeals to all ages.

Will my little one like it?

Judging by the children present at last night’s performance, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. One little boy, so entranced by the story, began edging ever closer to the stage in an attempt to get in on the action. Even the little girl who declared “The end” with such conviction at regular intervals throughout the performance wasn’t willing the show to end; it was merely a sign of her emotional attachment to the story and her longing for a happily-ever-after.

Trip tip

Book for more than one performance because the chances are you’ll want to see it again and again and again.

The Velveteen Rabbit is suitable for ages four and older and is playing until 19 April. You can book tickets through the Unicorn Theatre’s website.

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