A spectacular overhead firework finale ends what should prove to be a successful Christmas production as essential elements blend to satisfy an audience of all ages. Despite a slow pace at times, Stefan Escreet’s production of Stephen Russell’s clever adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel has everything. An ingenious set by Martin Johns, who also designed the colourful costumes, original gamelan music composed by Chris Stones, and the scene-stealing white elephant, Hamlet, brought to life with unerring precision by John Bonner and Matt Nalton.
Phil Corbitt, Joanna Holden and Vera Chok in The Firework-Makerâ€™s Daughter at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick Photo: Keith Pattison
Such is the abundance of movement on stage choreographed by Ella Vale that it’s difficult to believe a cast of just nine play all 22 characters. As Lila, the daughter of the title, Vera Chok gives a poignant performance of an adolescent woman resisting the protective influence of her father, Ashley Alymann. As he helps her to find the secret of firework making, Chulak, played by Mitesh Soni, also provides some of the production’s jesting and Declan Wilson, as his uncle, takes the humour briefly into slapstick territory.
The colourful physical theatre charms the young in the audience, even as the universal problems of growing up and coming of age resonate with adults. It all works beautifully.