Philip Pullman’s tale of adventure is given the Birmingham Stage Company treatment with a pacy and imaginative production aimed at families.
Adapted by Stephen Russell, it sees Lila (Laura Durrant) climbing volcanoes, meeting spirits and fending off pirates and crocodiles to discover the secret of firework-making.
Sets are minimal with mountains made out of cloth and the market a simple stall. But there are some fantastic costumes and puppets – not least for the talking elephant Hamlet (Matt Williamson) and a fun crocodile.
At times, the enthusiasm of the cast means their speech is a little too rapid, making it difficult to keep up, but the liveliness of Lila and her friend, elephant keeper Chulak (Ben Wong), endear them to us from the start.
Directed by Phil Clark and designed by Jackie Trousdale, the production has some excellent effects, particularly when Lila faces the Fiend in her quest for the secret of firework making and when Chulak has to ask for help from the Goddess of the Lake. A good deal of thought has gone into the firework competition at the end. With health and safety making an indoors firework display unlikely, instead we are treated to silhouettes, music, magic and the odd bang. Until Jan 22.