This charming adventure will delight adults and children alike and is a great Christmas alternative to going to a pantomime.
Lila wants to be a firework- maker just like her father but is frustrated when he refuses to teach her the secrets of firework-making and soon decides to go on a adventure of her own that soon leads her and her friends Chulak and Hamlet into danger.
Based on Philip Pullman’s story, The Firework-Maker’s Daughter uses shadow puppets to help convey the story in a unique and charming way that captures the audiences attention and fascination right from the opening scene.
The energy and enthusiasm that comes through from all of the performances is never in question. But it is in particular evidence through the charming performances of Lucy Hall as Lila and Peter Kirk as Chulak – both steady and consistent in their characterisations that put a smile on the audience’s face.
There is plenty to keep the children in the audience entertained from meeting Rambashi who is a pirate to Lila’s terrifying encounter in the cave of the Fire-Fiend. Fast paced and containing lots of humour to make everyone giggle, it only begins to slow down towards the end of the first act – just when things are beginning to become slightly more tense.
Musically, there is a beautiful and mystical sound to it that draws the audience into what is happening on stage and keeps them absorbed throughout. Alice Farnham makes her Royal Opera debut conducting this production and does well to keep the music flowing with ease and keep it light throughout.
But occasionally the scene changes feel a bit abrupt and awkward that it can take a few moments to adjust to the new scene – particularly in the opening scenes when we are introduced to Hamlet the elephant, it doesn’t seem to flow as smoothly as it could do.
Although the ending feels slightly flat and perhaps takes a bit too long to get to the climax (the children in the audience were beginning to get slightly fidgety towards the end) everything is tied up nicely and there is a sense of joy at the story’s conclusion.
Yet there is no doubting this production’s ability to charm and whisk the audience away to a different land, absorbing them in a colourful and fascinating production that is as delightful for the adults to watch as well as children.
The Firework-Maker’s Daughter is on at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre until the 2nd January 2016. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/the-firework-makers-daughter-by-john-fulljames