Marvin’s Binoculars – Unicorn Theatre, London

Reviewer: Serafina Cusack

Writer: Justin Audibert

Director: Hannah Quigley

Marvin’s Binoculars is a wonderfully colourful tale of innocence that is as much about birds as it is about racism.

Marvin and new girl Sita have been paired up by their teacher to draw a map of somewhere that means something to them. They choose the wetlands and woods of their neighbourhood, where keen 9 year old ornithologist Marvin likes to go, especially with the brand new binoculars he was gifted by his late grandma. When Marvin accidentally leaves his binoculars behind, the two friends have to confront why adults are sometimes mean for no reason.

Justin Audibert’s writing skilfully addresses racial prejudices seriously, whilst maintaining a light and comfortable narrative, that has kids and parents alike shouting out. The production is panto-esque at times, and perhaps it could afford to lean into that with more specific moments for the audience to get involved. Sometimes it feels like Daniel Braimah, who plays Marvin with humour and charm, is fighting against the audience’s desire to be involved. Rose-Marie Christian, who plays Sita and Marvin’s mum, is a real driving force of the play. Her high energy and accomplished performance pairs well with the natural pace of the show.

The set, sound and lighting design by Samuel Wyer, Mike Winship and Simeon Miller respectively is a feast for the senses. The three elements of design work together to create a colourful, borderline surrealist landscape that at times inspires actual shrieks of delight from those watching.

The play is unfortunately not always engaging, a lot of the dialogue is heavily bird-fact based which does not necessarily lend itself to a room full of squirming children. Where the writing really shines is in its ability to tackle important subjects such as loss, displacement and racial prejudice.

Runs until 3 July 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Vibrant plumage on a serious topic.

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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