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Library gives a lion pride of place

Bite Size Festival, Warwick Arts Centre, Saturday, October 7.

Warwick Arts Centre held a day of theatre dubbed "The showcase for Midlands theatre making." Attended by potential patrons and audiences alike, it featured a range of works from pitches and extracts, to works in progress and full shows. Library Lion, adapted from the book by Michelle Knudsen

Libraries are places to be quiet, with no running and definitely no wildlife allowed. Lions? No - lions don’t sound like they should be allowed in a library.

Library Lion tells the charming tale of two librarians, Miss Merryweather and Mr McBee who run a tight ship and an even tighter storytime.

When a mysterious stranger tries to join in the kid’s storytime he is shooed off but leaves behind his favourite book - the Library Lion.

The librarians agree to read it and are surprised when a lion jumps off the page to listen along. Miss Merryweather and the lion bond instantly and he helps her with jobs - from licking labels, to dusting off old encyclopaedias no-one reads any more.

Then there’s an unexpected accident and the lion is ejected from the library for roaring. There’s definitely no roaring allowed in a library.

But some of the magic has gone from storytime, so the quest is on to find the lion and bring him back.

With snatches of song and lots of audience participation, this show will enthral any young child. The moral of the tale is that libraries are for everyone, possibly even endangered species.

Aptly enough, the next performance of the show will be at Stourbridge Library during October half term. It's a must for anyone who loved The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

The Interlude by Maison Foo This work in progress combines two actors and five doors with experimental puppetry and video techniques. The story starts slowly and happily with two travellers, Wanderer and Flee, running in and out of doors, and is played for slapstick laughs. But what's behind the running around dawns on the audience when Flee’s application to stay in the UK is rejected. What follows is a dark tale (literally - it's illuminated by torchlight) of the modern refugee, using puppets and video. The show aims at an audience of eight-year-olds and upwards. I was concerned that some of the themes might be a bit too mature for youngsters, so I asked my eight-year-old son what he made of it all. His response: "That was amazing, the way the puppets turned into a film."

So the staging’s a hit, even if the storyline feels like it needs further development. The Female Warrior - Or The Surprising Life and Adventures of Hannah Snell Coventry’s very own Talking Birds theatre company tells what could be a straightforward tale of an abandoned woman who runs away and joins the army. But there's a twist: It’s 1723, so she has to change her name from Hannah to James and spend years pretending she’s a man. There’s plenty of authentic telling to the tale, which has been created in collaboration with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers museum in Warwick. It’s a nice history piece with a spot of audience participation that would go down well with schools. The moral of the tale? A woman can do any job a man can do. Of course.

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