Based on Peter S. Beagle’s novel
Adapted and directed by Ed Rutherford
Produced by Promethean Theatre Ensemble
At City Lit Theatre Chicago
Innovative worthy world premiere of classic novel, The Last Unicorn, delights
The gusty Promethean Theatre Ensemble shows why they are a young theatre troupe worthy of note with Ed Rutherford’s ambitious and finely imagined stage adaptation of Beagle’s 1968 novel, The Last Unicorn. Director Rutherford’s staging has hints of Mary Zimmerman’s style as story theatre containing use of masks, puppets and highly theatrical movements including songs, physical comedy and narration. You’d be hard pressed to find a more innovative theatrical event from a storefront theatre troupe. The production values here are excellent.
The Last Unicorn tells the tale of the Unicorn: the most beautiful creates in all the world, immortal, and magical. When she hears from hunters that she maybe the last of her kind, the Unicorn (Kyla Embrey) sets off on a quest to discover what has happened to all the unicorns. Her journey becomes quite an adventure as she meets Schmendrick (Nick Lake)—a well-meaning yet inept magician and Molly Grue (Shawna Tucker)—an outspoken scullery maid with a good heart. The three embark on a journey of redemption and renewal that includes harpies, dragons, witches, brigands, talking butterflies, and a nasty king. But their most fearsome opponent is the Red Bull or so the Unicorn supposes. Things get quite complicated for the Unicorn when she is made human by a miscast spell by Schmendrick. The Unicorn experiences what it is to be human as she learns about love, mortality and suffering.
Adapter/director Ed Rutherford meticulously covers most of the adventures from Beagles’ novel making for a complex, enduring, and entertaining theatrical event. Perhaps Rutherford’s decision to include most of the novel’s events slowed down show a tad and made it a bit too long but I believe that those elements made the production an epic event of story telling theatre.
Kyla Embrey was a empathetic Unicorn. Nick Lake is terrific as the inept magician while Shawna Tucker and Jack McCabe did nice work. Brian Pastor was excellent as Lir, the honorable hero. The ensemble worked hard with the many scene changes and movements.
Promethean Theatre Ensemble delivered a special theatrical treat showing their stagecraft and creativity with The Last Unicorn. Ed Rutherford’s vision and passion for the material propels this production. Kudos to Ed and his cast for mounting a fine adult fable. This is imaginative theatre.
At City Lit Theatre, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, IL