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Inkheart review at Home, Manchester – ‘confused’

Paul McEwan, Andrew Sheridan, Katherine Carlton, Rachel Atkins and Kelly Hotten in Inkheart at Home, Manchester. Photo: Graeme Cooper Paul McEwan, Andrew Sheridan, Katherine Carlton, Rachel Atkins and Kelly Hotten in Inkheart at Home, Manchester. Photo: Graeme Cooper
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Cornelia Funke’s Inkworld trilogy may be held up as an example of popular fantasy metafiction for children, but Walter Meierjohann and Stephen Sharkey’s unconvincing adaptation of part one fails to find a metatheatrical equivalent. This makes Home’s first Christmas show seem a rather poor relation to the narrative richness of the original – the story of 12-year-old bookworm Meggie suddenly discovering her favourite baddies leaping off the page and into the real world while real people, including her mother, vanish mysteriously into print.

Meierjohann’s moody but snail-paced production, on a visually startling set dominated by a massive mound of books, a vast encircling cyclorama and vivid video projections, struggles to convey the subtleties of who’s fictional, who’s imaginary and who’s real, making Meggie and her father’s epic quest to release mum feel more like a hard plod than an irresistible page-turner.

The cast, led by Katherine Carlton’s free-spirited Meggie, creates an austere gallery of inky villains and fictional hero figures, but it is mostly hamstrung by the technicalities of the setting and having to stand and deliver pages of over-explanatory dialogue that only adds to the general tedium of watching so many characters in search of a director.

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Verdict
Any high hopes for Home’s first Christmas show are let down by a confused page-to-stage adaptation  
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