LIONBOY Reflection

Poetic and surrealistic visuals, astonishing effects, incorporation of physical journey and text comprise the Complicite team.

“For 30 years Complicite has toured the world with ground-breaking and original productions, enthralling audiences and influencing the next generation of theatre makers. Adapted from Zizou Corder’s best-selling trilogy, Lionboy is its first show created especially for families and young people. Lionboy tells the story of eleven-year old Charlie Ashanti, a perfectly normal boy, except for one thing: he can communicate with cats – from household pets to roaring lions. When his scientist parents are kidnapped by agents of an evil multi-national pharmaceutical corporation, Charlie sets off on a brave rescue mission that takes him from London to Africa, with a little help from a floating circus and its pride of performing lions! ”

– Hong Kong Arts Festival

Adopted from LION BOY written by Zizou Corder, the show ‘Lionboy‘ story-tells a journey of a boy ‘Charlie Ashanti’ whom can communicate with cats including lions . His journey to find his parents kidnapped by the pharmacy conglomerate ‘Corporacy’ follows the fundamental stages of a hero’s journey. The play adopts ‘story-telling’ narrative to deliver the story to the audience. When watching the actors introducing themselves and their roles, the audience become aware of the fact that the play is a ‘play’. The illusion of audience further breaks down into pieces when the actors narrates as if they are telling a story from the book. The story line is mostly carried out by the main character ‘Ashanti’ from his perspective. It is a unique approach to prevent the audience from immersing 100% into the show, compare to the other plays which involves audience by creating an illusion.

Even though the audience is aware that the show is fictional, the show still uses and requires ‘Suspension of Disbelief’ of the audience. “‘Honesty is prevalent in our show. Theatre exist in audience’s mind” James, a co-director of the Lion Boy said. We were able to interview him, thanks to Grade 12’s attempts to contact them and ask for an interview.

Q & A

Q. What is your role in the show?

A. James: Everyone should be involved in the show, although it might seem chaotic to others. As a director, I need to fit around and see what might work best. Since I have to choose the best idea for the show, I try to have outside eye to see the show objectively.

Q. Do the audience’ reaction differ according to their culture?

A. Yes. We performed in 3 different cities; London, New York and Hong kong. And their reactions are all different, depending on their level of English as well as the atmosphere. And it is fascinating to see that their reactions are all different.  London was the city with the most miserable and quietest audience. New york had the loudest, most passionate audience. Now we are in seoul, and the audience seems like they are concentrated enjoying the show.

Q. We are re-telling the story of witches’ scene in our class, and do you have any piece of advice for us?

A. You need to show the disgusting ambience of the scene. Your acting should match with this concept and make the audience feel the same way as you intend. Try to interpret the story and think what that story means.

Hero’s Journey

Acid Test Results: 

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.59.53 PM

    Soon as I entered the auditorium, I felt/noticed

  • Smoke: elusive and secretive atmosphere
  • Props: there were drums on the stage and ropes on the wall, which made me curious
  • The audience mumbling sound. Even though it was noise, the noise made me more exciting and looking forward to the show.
  • White circular panel -> what is this?

Notes after the show started

Frankly speaking, watching a play was not my cup of tea. I was not interested in watching a play and I had only watched plays because I had to do. However, my viewpoint and knowledge grew significantly up as I watched the show Lion Boy.

1. I was impressed by the technique used within the show. First and foremost, the use of props was the most inspirational thing within the show. The big white circular panel as a projection, was astounding to see. Also, the ladder as an literal, figurative and abstract architecture was frequently used as a prop, such as a boat, walls, hole and prison.   I got inspired from their use of props, therefore decided to apply this tactic to our Macbeth performance.

2. One of the most memorable scenes for me was the boxing match. In this scene, the speaker ‘Ashanti’ explicitly told about the corruption of the ‘Corporacy’, which was intriguing to see. The figurative boxing match, which actually was a debate between Charlie and the Corporacy worker, showed how they exercised their creativity in order to draw the audience’s focus. And of course, it was a clear theatrical metaphor.

3. Another momentary scene for me is when Sergei was kicked out of the stage because it was irrelevant character to that scene. It reminded me that what I was watching was not a real but fictitious play. In addition, even though the play has something to do with the animals, the actual show didn’t use any real animals.The cats and the multi lingual chameleon ‘Neenoo’ were played by human actors. Or the speaker just delivered the dialogue between himself and animals. I might have been perplexed if It had not been for my background knowledge in suspension of disbelief, but I was excited to see the application of ‘suspension of disbelief’ with in the actual show.

4. Overall, the show has broken my stereotype towards the play in general. I have had an epiphany that watching show fulfills me with adrenaline. This adrenaline may have came from the actors, or myself who was intrigued by the show. Plus,  I as a drama student was able to obtain valuable experience that will aid me in performing and directing the scene. I, as a drama student, also was able to revision things I have learned in the drama class, such as the Viewpoint, IGCs, Suzukis and et cetera.

Theatrical Analysis on the LION BOY

Ingredients of Great Composition

  • Hero’s Journey with deus ex machina: The main character leads the scene, faces hardships, meets assistants and finally ends up with living happily ever after.
  • Lights: When Charlie Ashanti talked to the audience, all the lights were off except to the one that spotlighted Charlie. This brought enormous attention to Charlie, the speaker, and was an effective technique.
  • Engaging the audience: When Charlie asked the audience to growl in order to save the lions, all the audience seemed like they hesitated but they growled together at the end. It was exciting to see that my contribution as an audience could affect the story.
  • Unexpected Entrance: When Sergei appeared on the side of the audience seat, I felt more engaged in the show.
  • Red Ballon: The red ballon connotes a parachute. When the ballon flew toward the audience, I noticed that all the audience were staring at the ballon.

Application of the VIEWPOINT

  • Gestures and Repetition: During the circus scene, the actors repeated some gesture with their hands.
  • Tempo: When the ensemble acted cats, they creeped at a fast pace. On the other hand, when those ensembles acted lions they spoke slowly but solemnly.
  • Duration: There was a duration between the monologue of Charlie and between scenes. Those silence paradoxically brought further attention.
  • Architecture: ladders, a red ballon, whitish circle
  • Spatial Relationship & Floor Pattern: The show was mostly carried out in the middle of the stage, i think they could have used more spaces in order to facilitate more creative floor patters.
  • Kinesthetic Response: Most of stimuli was the texts.


  • Some of senior students pointed out a deprivation of core strength and energy.

Unsolved Question :  Is showing an actor’s back legal in theatre?

There was a moment when the lion escaped from the circus ferry and met her mother in Moroco. At that time, the female actor, who was in charge of playing the mother lion, showed her back to the audience. Considering that I’ve always told and heard not to show your back to the audience, It made me curious why the director and actor chose to do so.


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