Review: Anansi the Spider Re-Spun: Episode 3, Unicorn Online

The third and final episode of the Unicorn Online’s fantastic Anansi the Spider Re-Spun series, ‘Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom’ may not reach the impressive heights of the previous two instalments, but nevertheless serves as an admirable reminder of just how wonderful digital theatre can be. Still as energetic and optimistic as ever, this episode (and indeed the entire series) has been a true gift during these trying times, able to entertain children ages 3 – 8 like nothing else.

Once again created and directed by Justin Audibert and performed by Afia Abusham, Sapphire Joy, and Juliet Okotie, ‘Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom’ sees the tricky Anansi attempt to stockpile all the wisdom of the world, so he can be the smartest spider around. However, in trying to hide his eponymous pot of wisdom, the artful arachnid may discover he’s not so wise after all…!

The final episode continues the format and style established in the previous instalments. Audibert utilizes the cast’s charisma and high energy, paired with Todd Macdonald’s impeccable editing, to successfully translate theatre into the virtual world. Between the dazzling visuals, eclectic layers, and Duramaney Kamara’s magical music, there’s so much engage with and love – much like the classic real-world theatre experience, audiences are free to connect with whatever part of the production grabs them. Even with so much theatre being offered online at the moment, it feels that Audibert and the Unicorn are the only ones to truly master bringing theatre into this new medium.

That said, there’s an unescapable feeling that this episode is a slight step down from the previous ones. Nothing is explicitly bad, per se, but nor is anything as great: the story is less whimsical and fun, the pacing is noticeably less polished (this episode is the shortest in the series, and certainly feels it), and even the use of the virtual space is less inventive than Audibert and his team have been.  This isn’t to say the episode isn’t worth a watch, its still a fun experience, but it perhaps doesn’t live up to what’s come before it, especially considering it’s the series finale.

Nevertheless, Audibert, Abusham, Joy, Okotie and the Unicorn should be commended for the entire Anansi series. Providing a light-hearted break every Saturday, reinforcing the episodes with additional educational material, whilst still being free to access? At a time where the theatre industry’s future perhaps looks a little bleak, its nice to know we can rely on these stalwart creators to inject some fun into the world. Moreover, thanks to popular demand, all episodes have been extended, now available until the 4th of July… so there’s really no excuse to not enjoy these unparalleled productions!

Anansi the Spider Re-Spun: Episode 3, Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom is available on YouTube until 4th July. For more information visit the Unicorn Theatre website.