City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Lion of Kabul

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 27 May 2008

Show Details
The Brunton
Catherine Wheels Theatre Company
Gil Robertson, artistic director; Nicola McCartney, writer; Kieran Cheung, composer and musician; D Fie Foe, Film artwork; Jo Timmins, assistant director
Gil Robertson, Marjan; Kieran Cheung, Akbhar the keeper
Running time: 

Children's theatre company Catherine Wheels have created a highly entertaining production with Gill Robertson's dramatisation of a true story.

The Lion of Kabul, which is showing as part of the Imaginate Festival 2008, is an enchanting tale of a lion called Marjan who lived in Kabul zoo, in Afghanistan, for twenty years. When he arrived as a cub, the country had been invaded by the Russians. After their withdrawal in 1989 civil war raged throughout the country and in Kabul alone over fifty thousand people were killed between the years 1992 to 1996.

The zoo was also caught up in the crossfire and although many animals were killed Marjan survived, despite having had a grenade thrown into his cage. Blind in one eye and deaf, as a result of the attack, his plight mirrored that of the people and he became a national symbol of strength and survival.

The production, suitable for 8-12 year olds, is set in a tent, simulating the enclosed space of a cage. Scripted by playwright Nicola McCartney, Gil Robertson imaginatively portrays Marjan through his journey from being a cub to adulthood. She incorporated much humour into the piece and the children in the audience were enthralled by her performance.

Animation of animals and scenery were effectively used on the walls of the tent to build an atmosphere of the zoo and the outside world, creating depth and space.

Although the set was minimal - a large wooden box and straw - all was used inventively, particularly during the scenes involving the keeper, played by Kieran Cheung, and the lion.

Sound effects of the ‘war animal' also helped to enhance our understanding of the difficulties encountered by the people of Afghanistan. Kieran Cheung's music also enhanced our sense of this foreign country. Overall it was a most enjoyable production and the full house of eight-year-olds were all captivated for the duration of the performance.

Show Times
28/29 May, 10.15am and 1pm

31 May, 11.15am and 2pm
1 June, 2pm
2 June, 10.15am 1pm