The Firework-Maker’s Daughter review at Theatre by the Lake Keswick

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.

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.

Production Information

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, November 26-January 7

Philip Pullman, adapted by Stephen Russell
Stefan Escreet
Theatre by the Lake Productions
Cast includes
Ashley Alymann, Vera Chok, Mitesh Soni, Jon Bonner, Matt Nalton
Running time
Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price