UNICORN: A Life Less Magical

The Manchester Ranch, 356 Manchester St, Christchurch

16/10/2014 - 18/10/2014

Le Tigre Tent – Busker Park, Christchurch

14/01/2016 - 23/01/2016


Christchurch Fringe 2014

Production Details

In a seedy bar at the corner of Regret Avenue & Manchester Street The Unicorn spins stories for your aesthetical edification. Brassy gold spun like birthday party magic in front of your skeptical soul, but funny.

Christchurch Fringe Festival 2014  
The Manchester Ranch, 356 Manchester St.
October 16-18
tickets $15/$12
available at the door
or email: meegwai@gmail.com    


Tucked into a dark corner of a forgotten circus the last of his kind, The Unicorn, spins stories of hope, love, and other miserable excuses. With a whiskey soaked voice The Unicorn teases out stories inspired by those around him, fuelled by their hopes, dreams, and lust for the comedy of sadness.

A new type of cabaret that emphasises the story over the song, the tale over the tune. Anyone with a Casio and a metronome can sing, but what about casting a spell with words and metaphors? Accompanied by a rotating cast of found-on-the-day musicians, The Unicorn weaves a night never to be repeated, but always remembered.

A unique story cabaret featuring live music and Derek Flores.

Le Tigre Tent, Busker Park
14th to the 23rd January, 9.30pm


Theatre , Solo , Comedy ,

A droll, horrific, bizarre tale with a moral

Review by Erin Harrington 17th Jan 2016

The Unicorn (Christchurch-based Canadian improviser Derek Flores) is one of the last of his kind – a mincing degenerate forbidden to board Noah’s Ark, but who nonetheless survived the great flood and must now wander the earth telling stories.

Inevitably, these stories are about love gone sour and while there might be a twinkle of hope at the end – a redemptive shift in character that means one of the lovers can move on, or a suggestion of future warmth and happiness – it’s not until said lovers have been gleefully dragged through the mud and punished for their romantic transgressions.

If you like an evening of improvised sentimental schadenfreude, then this is the show for you.

Our story is about a dissatisfied perpetual student, Steffan, and his horse-riding teacher, Michelle (named for a feisty member of the audience), and their shift from hatred to passion to heartbreak. The tale is told with droll wit and wide-eyed, sometimes horrified incredulity, especially as (goaded on by the audience) the story takes a few bizarre turns for the worst. The moral of the evening is: don’t try to solve your romantic problems through arson. 

The tiny Le Tigre Blue tent at the World Buskers’ Festival offers a terrifically intimate space for this sort of performance. Flores is accompanied by pianist Kris Finnerty, who adeptly improvises a nuanced soundtrack for the increasingly bizarre story, and the technical staff are responsive and creative in the way they work to manipulate the atmosphere through the use of lighting and smoke.

I am a big fan of The Unicorn’s storytelling shows – this is the third or fourth time I’ve been to one over the last couple of years, and I’ll be attending again later this week – but this is the first time I’ve been in such a tipsy, boisterous audience. I am really impressed with the way that the chatty offenders are both acknowledged but kept in line, and how Flores honours their persistent offers without letting them overwhelm or control the narrative.

I know that this sort of comedy isn’t to everyone’s tastes – at a bar earlier in the evening I talk to someone who enjoyed attending on a previous night but found the humour to be a bit black for them – but I love that there is space for story in a festival like this and the 50 minutes moves swiftly. If you get in quick at the beginning, you can also get some milk and cookies.


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Magnificent improvising and storytelling

Review by Erin Harrington 18th Oct 2014

The Unicorn (improviser and comedian Derek Flores), possibly the last of his kind, is both supernatural creature and fading lounge lizard (complete with ruffled shirt and glass filled with equal parts booze and regret). His gift – or burden – is that he is charged with keeping stories alive.

We’re invited into a pop-up theatre space, the front room of a gorgeous old central city villa, to hear him tease out one of these narratives.

In this instance The Unicorn blends cruelty and kindness into a bittersweet springtime story about a dancer named Bethany and her troubled search for personal and creative fulfilment. He is joined by pianist Hamish Oliver, who acts as the good natured butt of some of the Unicorn’s jokes while providing often subtle musical accompaniment that is as integral to the narrative as the Unicorn’s dry and cynical bon mots.  

Flores is a magnificent improviser and storyteller, intertwining genuine pathos with mincing, snarky bathos and swiftly incorporating everything from interjections from the audience to the bellowing of drunks outside. 

Apart from the fact that he is very funny, Flores has a great talent for building nuanced, believable characters from detail and subtle movement, and for creating a relatable world that feels both quotidian and cinematic in its scope. Each moment, even the most flippantly and obviously added, feels earned within the world of the story. 

There are also moments where we get to experience the exciting, organic nature of the storytelling process, such as a point near the end when he realises that an offhanded comment about a title for Bethany’s work of dance offers a rich and meaningful ending to his story. These moments of shared discovery elevate the performance from glib anecdote to something much more special.


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