His Dark Materials

A night out at the theatre is always nice and the fact that a local community theatre group were adapting Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials made a YourFace outing a must. We had the best of both worlds in terms of seating with Blackett and Morgan high above the action and being able to see every little aside, and myself sat right at the front in full blasting range of the smoke machine.
Now, most readers will be vaguely familiar with the tale of Lyra Belacqua, daemons, Dust and armoured bears from The Golden Compass film (or Northern Lights, the first novel in the trilogy) so I won’t run through the plot again. However for the uninitiated, here is GoLeicestershire’s very own description:

“One day twelve-year-old Lyra Belacqua’s uncle, Lord Asriel - an experimental theologian and explorer, arrives at the university where she lives with terrifying news from the north. Impelled at first by her own curiosity, Lyra is drawn into a journey through worlds familiar and unknown and a savage struggle among the armoured bears and witch clans of the Arctic. In order to survive, she must leave her childhood behind and venture where no one has gone before - beyond the Northern Lights.”

Far more interesting is the way in which this story was told to us. The daemons, which presents a problem on stage without the benefits of CGI or live animals (hmm) were beautifully realised as puppets. Not like a Muppet though; there were no puppeteers hiding behind tables. Instead, the puppets almost became an addition to some dancelike motions made by the puppeteers as they galloped around the stage as snow leopards, or ravens or Lyra’s daemon Pan. I loved that the puppets, instead of being fluffy and cute were grubby and shapeless masses of material which went a long way to making the daemons completely believable and almost making me forget the clearly visible puppeteer. Check out a lovely picture here.The production and the acting was of an excellent standard and Lyra was perfectly cast; loveable but enough of a brat to make her detailed and real. Everyone looked like they were having a blast and the armoured bears were just incredible.

Would highly recommend going to see this while its on for the rest of the week. Curve has been a bit hit and miss since opening but this is a definite high point.