Cartoonopolis, Theatre Review. Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

Cast: Lewis Bray.

To compare the same play by the same performer two years apart is to open yourself up to folly and yet as audience member rose in appreciation at the end of Lewis Bray’s magical return of his play Cartoonopolis, as they revelled as one in the life of boy to whom cartoons are a special friend, there can be no doubt that this is one of the most exceptional plays crowds are likely to see this year.

Lewis Bray commands the stage with honour, a 90 minute monologue is hard enough and one that deserves admiration, yet to place inside the myriad of characters the sensitive subject of autism, the love and observation between two brothers and a family’s perspective on Government policy towards the greater population; this is a performance that deserves to be held in the highest of esteem, a mountain’s peak that can only be appreciated for its natural beauty.

The space of the newly re-furnished and enhanced Unity Theatre made the story of a boy with autism, who found early solace in the world of cartoons, perfectly endearing, the high velocity of Mr. Bray’s performance one in which the whole floor of Unity one seemed to be covered, grooves melted into the floor where the actor showed the speed of thought with rapid determination and polish; like a lion prowling the area in which it is king, there is no space big enough in which to contain the sheer majesty of this graduate of the Liverpool and Everyman Playhouse.

Directed with absolute commitment to Lewis Bray’s vision, both the incomparable Matt Rutter and Chris Tomlinson deserve the applause as much as the actor, to harness such energy in a way that it goes right to the edge of characterisation and force without over stepping the line, is in itself an art form and one that along with the original lighting design and the signalling of moods by Kay Haynes, makes the show one that should be required viewing by all, not just those who live with autism in their lives but to those to whom our lives are in their hands on a daily basis, for then they might actually get a sense of just how creative, how truly remarkable people with autism and their families are.

Cartoonopolis is a majestic beast of a play, one delivered by a character of the stage to whom the energy and imagination is arguably limitless.


Ian D. Hall