Review: Anansi the Spider Re-spun: Episode 2, Unicorn Online

The second instalment of Unicorn Theatre’s online offerings, Anansi and the Two Dinners builds off the energy and charm of the first episode, doubling down on the whimsy, fun, and moral message that made the initial chapter such a success. Indeed, with all the additional material made available by the Unicorn and Illuminations productions, the show has even grown beyond these bite-size episodes: they not only entertain young viewers, but educate and empower them.

Once again directed by Justin Audibert and performed by Afia Abusham, Sapphire Joy, and Juliet Okotie, this week’s episode sees the mischievous Anansi the Spider rope his two sons into his playful plot: attempting to attend two parties, and eat twice the amount of food as a result. Can Anansi and his boys find a way to sample all the tasty treats, or will he fail and only get his just desserts?

Much like the previous episode, Anansi the Spider Re-spun works largely because Audibert and his team have seemingly perfected the art of translating theatre into a digital space: whilst other productions simply seek to recreate the theatrical experience as much as possible, Anansi has found a new theatrical language that works far better in these online mediums. Using the magic of Todd Macdonald’s editing, clever use of camera work and spacing, and the advantages of using recorded material, the team once again produces a 10-minute episode that is sure to completely engross younger viewers. Reinforced by the charisma and high-energy of the performers, the episode doesn’t once break from its stride, ensuring that the viewing experience is always entertaining.

Moreover, the Unicorn team have built on these fun stories, now offering an exciting mix of additional activities to accompany the episodes. Finding yourself hum the episode’s original music, written by Duramaney Kamara? Well, learn the songs properly from the performers themselves, in a light-hearted musical seminar. Want to learn more about the West African and Caribbean culture that features in these episodes through a series of games and challenges? Download the completely free ‘Family Activity’ pack and go through all the specially crafted activities at home. Are you a teacher seeking to utilise these online theatrical performances in your virtual lesson plan? The Unicorn has even thought of that, making available a ‘Teacher Pack’ for all educators and parents.

With these kind of thoughtful extras, the team behind Anansi are truly making the most of the digital space, doing the absolute best for self-isolating viewers trapped inside.Week in, week out, Anansi the Spider Respun proves to be a delight for younger viewers, showing that being digital doesn’t mean theatre needs to be anything less than excellent. With the last episode coming out next week, make sure you’re enjoying these fantastic episodes whilst you can.

Anansi the Spider Re-Spun, Episode 2: Anansi and the Two Dinners is available on YouTube until 27th June. For more information visit the Unicorn Theatre website.