Reprint Productions present
There’s murder, there’s mystery, there’s opium, intrigue ... an excellent piece of storytelling
Being a fan of the books, I am always inordinately pleased when performances bring to life the stories that I love without feeling that they need to change them simply for the sake of putting their mark on it. For those whom books are less important to, suffice to say that Philip Pullman is an excellent storyteller and in sticking to his work this production already has a well-structured, well-researched and intriguing tale.
It’s a shame that the cast have to deal with a small venue for a play that has a pretty large scope, which means that as they run almost in circles around their set we change from open moorland to opium den. The cast has to deal with a few more characters than they have actors for, too, but they do a good job of changing both scene and character at the drop of a hat (or the addition of a shawl), and so as long as you pay attention you should figure out whether we’re in a photography studio or an Indian palace and who’s who at that point. The cast work hard as the story moves on at a pretty fast rate, but they are definitely up for the task. With competent actors and a little help from the backstage crew—who get the excitement of using a smoke machine at some points—this is a well-produced show.
There’s murder, there’s mystery, there’s opium, intrigue and a priceless ruby. Amidst all the clue-cracking and danger-of-death activity, though, the cast fit in a few laughs, with particular highlights being the enthusiastic Jim Taylor and the bashful Frederick Garland, and their showdown against Mrs Holland and her goon Mr Berry near the end. This is an excellent piece of storytelling brought to life in an enjoyable show.