Anansi the Spider – review

Unicorn Theatre
Review by: Rebecca Amissah
Published: Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 12:08am
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Growing up in a Ghanaian household, the stories of Anansi the Spider and his trickster ways were used to help shape our moral compass. I was all the more excited to see this production as I was accompanying my cousin’s five-year-old daughter Anaya on her first experience of the theatre.

Anaya was impatiently waiting for me as I battled the rain and traffic to pick her up. Her excitement at taking the train to London and seeing the show were well-rewarded.

I highly recommend this show especially as an introduction to the wonderful world of theatre.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Unicorn Theatre have put on Anansi the Spider, ‘The Greatest Tales Ever Spun’, directed by the new resident director Justin Audibert. There are three stories from West African and Caribbean folklore spun in a wonderfully interactive way for the children. The children sit on the floor at the edge of Sadeyesa Greenaway-Bailey’s set, much like how these stories were told to us as children and have been for generations. The set comprised several tree trunks and the costumes featured Kente print (also designed by Greenaway-Bailey) as a nod to the Ghanaian origins of the character.

Some of the smaller children (it’s aimed at children aged between 3 and7) found the darkness and the drumming a bit scary (lighting design by Jai Morjaria, composer and sound design Duramaney Kamara) but those moments were short-lived.The wonderful actresses Afia Abusham, Juliet Okotie and Sapphire Joy brought an exciting energy to the stories and kept the children entertained and engaged.



There were a group of children there for a birthday party and I was struck at what a great idea it is to introduce children to the theatre and giving them a break from screen time. Anaya said “Mummy the people did it, not screens” which struck me as a profound comment on modern childhood. Children nowadays are exposed to so much media through phones, tablets and phones so it was amazing that Anaya noticed that the ‘people did it’ meaning that it was acted out in front of her and she was a part of it rather than being passively fed it through a screen.

Children nowadays are exposed to so much media through phones, tablets and phones so it was amazing that Anaya noticed that the ‘people did it’ meaning that it was acted out in front of her and she was a part of it rather than being passively fed it through a screen

Anaya had the best time and spent the return train journey home telling me the story. She also said, “This is the best day ever” before adding “But not the best weather”. Let’s hope that makes me the favourite auntie for a few weeks.

I highly recommend this show especially as an introduction to the wonderful world of theatre.

NEED TO KNOW: Anansi the Spider is at the Unicorn Theatre until 27 October 2019 | See listing | Read interview with Justin Audibert