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An emotional tale of lions, war and love
AN inspiring tale of enduring friendship from an award-winning writer has something for all the family, according to the author himself.
Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo shot to fame with the National Theatre production of his book War Horse, and subsequent Steven Spielberg-directed major motion picture, but it is The Butterfly Lion that he hopes will captivate audiences at Malvern Theatres.
Enjoying its first major tour, the novel was originally published in 1996 and Mr Morpurgo says the story came from many, many routes.
It draws on the true story of a wounded British soldier rescuing a lion from certain death at the hands of a desperate circus master in First World War France and Mr Morpurgo’s fascination with photos of the discovery of a pride of white lions in South Africa in the 1960s.
His own failed attempts to run away from boarding school in Sussex even shaped the journey of Bertie and the White Lion.
Having seen the production for the first time in Cambridge, he said: “It was wonderfully inventive, very moving and the acting was extraordinary. I loved the simplicity of the set and the inventiveness of it.”
He believes at least one of the main themes will suit every age, with the play tracing a ghost story, love story, war story and an animal story.
“It’s absolutely not just for children, it is for the whole family. They just have children at the heart of the story – a child growing up. It’s an epic story and he is pretty unhappy and desperate but he meets a little white lion cub and saves its life.”
As events unfold, audience members are transported from the African veld to the battlefields of First World War France but Mr Morpurgo says he also feels a connection with Worcestershire.
He and his wife received honorary doctorates from the University of Worcester, while poems written by his grandfather, Emile Cammaerts, were set to music composed by Sir Edward Elgar and performed at the Royal Albert Hall during the Great War.
“I know Malvern very well because of its literary and musical background – culturally I am very connected to the Malvern Hills,” he said.
The Butterfly Lion runs from today to Saturday, and stars Gwen Taylor, who played Amy in hit TV comedy Duty Free, and who occupied the title role in the sitcom Barbara, as well as appearing in Coronation Street.
A post-show discussion will take place on Thursday, which is free to all Thursday evening ticket holders.
For more information, go to malvern-theatres.co.uk or call the box office on 01684 892277.
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