Birmingham Stage Company, always reliable when addressing a young audience, has come up with an impressive production of David Almond’s contemporary classic.
This tantalising story about a boy who discovers a decrepit tramp with wings lurking amongst the clutter in the derelict garage of his family’s new home is given an atmospheric treatment with Jacqueline Trousdale’s spectacular tip of a set, complemented by Jason Taylor’s low-key lighting.
It looks terrific.
In the style of the RSC’s Nicholas Nickleby the actors share narration duties while slipping in and out of character. They also provide the instrumental accompaniment, with no fewer than three violins playing together at one point.
It’s seamless, sophisticated theatre with a real emotional pull as Michael’s relationships with Skellig and neighbour Mina develop in counterpoint with the increasingly life-threatening illness of his premature baby sister.
The show is so well crafted that you may feel that you don’t want to analyse the story too closely to discover the sentimentality lurking just beneath its surface.
As to the supposed mystery of Skellig’s identity, it seems to me that if he looks like an angel, walks like an angel and turns up in hospitals to perform supernatural good works, you might as well call him an angel.
Nevertheless Neal Foster, relishing the role, does his best to anchor Skellig on earth. Performances from Jill Regan as Mina, Iain Ridley as Michael, and Colin R Campbell and Zara Ramm as his parents all strike the right note, and a lively young audience watched in wrapt silence.
* Running time: Two hours. Until October 18.