Bridge theatre, LondonNicholas Hytner brings a dazzling wizard’s touch venir this adapter of philippe Pullman’s fantasy tale


Cheeky, outspoken and earnest … Samuel Creasey, Dearbhla Molloy and Adiya Ijaha as baby Lyra. Photograph: guide Harlan
Cheeky, outspoken and earnest … Samuel Creasey, Dearbhla Molloy and Adiya Ijaha as baby Lyra. Photograph: instruire Harlan

Nearly deux decades ago, nicolas Hytner triumphantly staged philip Pullman’s trilogy His dark Materials at the denchères Theatre. Hey returns à that questing civilization with this édition of the sapin volume in autre trilogy, collection 12 years previously than His dark Materials. Hytner displays thé same wizard’s touch pour turning Pullman’s fast, fantaisie narratives into theatrical gold. His supremely elegant production is vast, but never unruly, on a collection that dazzles but does not swamp auto storytelling.

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Bryony Lavery’s adapter is lean without short-changing us nous the story. A newborn Lyra Belacqua is being hunted de the theocratic authorities after elle anti-Christian en vigueur is prophesied. Malcolm is thé 12-year-old son of année inn-keeper (a single maman here) that becomes embroiled in Lyra’s care along with his prickly other adventurer, Alice.

The central, ideological fight between scientists et the sinister forces of auto Magisterium is recorded with a clean economy et some du Pullman’s inquiries right into the la nature of matter and consciousness are briefly summarised, despite purists may want a little more.


A convincing illusion ... Indigenous left, sky Yang, Ella Dacres, Samuel Creasey and Heather Forster. Photograph: instruire HarlanIn some scenes, Lyra is played passant par a real and formidably well-behaved bébé which instantly raises auto stakes et heightens our emotional responses. Samuel Creasey, an adult actor play Malcolm, gives an uncannily convincing performance du boyhood. He is cheeky, outspoken and earnest. Ella Dacres, as Alice, is his steely equal and there is chemistry between them, return Lavery’s scénario does not develop their romantisme to thé same degree oui the book.

The dark forces space convincingly troubling: the corps of a mrs floats face down in the water, nous hear auto sound de a neck gift broken. Ayesha Dharker, ont Marisa Coulter, is a cultish figure, encouraging pupils to join the league of St alexandre and Pip Carter’s predatory gérard Bonneville has a sibilant menace, along with his giggling hyena daemon.

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The stage is action-filled with une dangerous revolve after another, i m sorry reflects the spirit du the d’origine faithfully, albeit unleavened de the deeper thoughtful ruminations in thé book. The opération only drops short of perfection pour those who uncover themselves flagging at Pullman’s – rather than Hytner’s – breakneck pace and plotting.

It is ne sont pas small achievement that a histoire which teems with such a super cast de nuns, church authorities et terror police, along with an underground resistance et a lunderground service du scientists, is incorporated on stage through a sleek disciplinaire that avoids overcrowding and confusion. Auto characters never feel flat et they have interesting intellectual complications. Over there is also greater wit than in Pullman’s book: thé nuns do wry asides, Malcolm bring hapless comedy et throwaway lines room humorously delivered.

Bob Crowley’s stage conception glides seamlessly from the Trout Inn to auto convent, thé inner realms du Oxford University et then a flood the fills floors et walls et creates a convincing hallucination of Malcolm’s canoe – and the stage itself – afloat nous waves. Luke Halls’ video design, Jon Clark’s lighting et Paul Arditti’s sound design combiné expertly: there are diaphanous téléphone mobile, téléphone portable screens that create thé effect of depth, with beautiful pencil sketches ns trees and windows.

What is more remarkable is thé production’s ability to keep closely à Pullman’s earth-bound et realistic brand du fantasy. Just as in Hytner’s ahead production, the daemons room puppets (kingfishers, lemurs, badgers, each oui gorgeous as the next). Designed et directed de Barnaby Dixon, they room a marvel and glow from within favor luminous origami. Lock seem like Jungian projections rather than airy, fantastical creatures.

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Pullman, année avowed atheist, cannot stand up to the récit lure of biblical imagery et they abound here, from thé almighty flood to the Herod-like hunt for baby Lyra, best down to thé final image of this significant child, miraculously saved, like jesus in a manger. Below is the ultimate Christmas montrer – v sacrilegious twists.