Red Fortress at the Unicorn Theatre

Carl Miller's new play doesn't romanticise Andalucia under Islamic rule as a place free of tension between Christians, Muslims and Jews but reminds its young audiences that the world's major faiths have much in common.

Anyone who has visited the real Red Fortress (Alhambra) in Granada or other remnants of Al-Andalus such as the Mezquita in Cordoba can't help be fascinated by the melting pot of cultures and faiths which has shaped modern Andalucia.

As a hispanophile I was immediately intriugued when I first heard that this play was coming the Unicorn, but I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the evening so much without some prior knowledge of Spanish culture and history.

The school groups who make up a key element of the Unicorn's audiences will have the benefit of workshops to tease out some of the social and historical messages which might otherwise pass the theatregoer by.

Set at the height of the Christian Reconquista of southern Spain, the story of Red Fortress is told through three young people: a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew. Writer Carl Miller and director Tony Graham have done well to capture the mood of looming war and suppressed political tensions.

Christopher Columbus's stand-up comedy routine ("Trust me, I'm a navigator") sits incongruously with the rest of the play but is amusing enough for that not to matter.

The love stories that emerge in the second half have an unexpected twist. The magnificently choreographed battle scene also deserves a mention.

Adam Wiltshire's design and Tunde Jegede's music are undoubtedly highlights of this production.

Red Fortress is the first outing for the Unicorn's new full-time in-house ensemble of six actors.

As a half-term outing for older children teenagers with an interest in history or further study of Spanish Red Fortress is certainly recommended.

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