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Toro! Toro! review at Northcott Exeter

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Told with passion and sincerity, Michael Morpurgo’s beautifully-crafted story is brought vividly alive by Gary Turner. A masterly story-teller, this versatile actor grips his audience from the outset. Economical and intelligent movement gives credibility to Morpurgo’s colourful characters. Song, dance and music flesh out scenes as a young boy grows into adulthood, an idyllic childhood shattered by war.

Simply yet effectively set against the tranquil beauty of rural Andalucia, a circular wooden stage reflects the importance of the bullring to the community. Young Antonito lives on a cattle-farm where his parents breed black bulls. At the core of the tale is his chance and remarkable bond with orphaned Paco. In a single night, Antonito experiences birth and death.

Sound designed by Alex Twiselton, recreated by David Gregory, gives depth to action as Turner creates clear, almost tangible pictures. Cicadas croak in the grass, vultures fly overhead, and with pent-up energy young bulls paw sun-dried earth. In the excitement of La Corrida, crowds cheer Antonito’s uncle, a famous matador. Donning the glittering gold jacket, Turner expertly swirls the crimson cape, steps and movement precisely choreographed as the bull is engaged.

On a hillside young Antonito witnesses enemy planes swooping low to destroy his village. Bullets ricochet across the valley – survivors seek refuge. Unafraid to face reality, Simon Reade’s fascinating adaptation is played out with honesty and vigour. Ultimately it looks to a future where honesty, truthfulness and bravery will bring hope.

Production Information

Northcott, Exeter, October 8-12, then touring until November 27

Michael Morpurgo, Simon Reade (adaptation)
Director, Designer
Philip Wilson
Poonamallee Productions in association with Exeter Northcott Theatre
Gary Turner
Running time
1hr 15mins

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