His Dark Materials Parts 1 & 2

Thu 12th – Sat 14th February 2015

reviews

Holly Humphrey

at 23:48 on 12th Feb 2015

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The promising premise of Pullman’s critically-acclaimed trilogy being interpreted as a play is enough to get any theatre-goer excited! In part one of this play we begin the original coming of age story of Lyra Belacqua; with fantastical elements combined with ideas of philosophy, theology, and physics. Now do not fear, if you have not read the books, this play is easy to follow from the start and the directors have been kind enough to provide you with a glossary in the program, explaining some of the ‘lingo’ from the book series. This very ambitious production with over 100 students involved and 30 cast members is certainly admirable, and I would argue very well executed.

The impressive band sets the scene in the most magical way, immersing you into the world the DramaSoc has created. I would argue that the orchestra is almost the daemon of this production, utterly inseparable as one supports the other in perfect harmony. Although occasionally the music drowns out some of the action, these mishaps are easily forgiven with the happy marriage of the music within the production- particularly in the final scene when Will interacts with the door in-between worlds.

The actors and actresses, who were the puppet masters for the daemons, were a credit to the cast and to the beautiful props provided by Blind Summit. I cannot express in words how fantastic the puppets were, they transported me to this world with ease and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The sheer genius of the way the daemons moved, particularly Lyra’s daemon, was utterly convincing, mesmerising and comical. Clearly a lot of time and rehearsal has gone into the understanding of mastering these puppets, and it has not gone to waste. The training by Nick Barnes was obviously not taken lightly and the portrayal of these mystical characters was magical.

The cast, although mammoth in size worked in perfect harmony: queues were on point, levels of voice were perfectly monitored and the fluency of speech was near on perfect. When the ensemble portrayed children they were particularly good and brought us into the child universe that controls this play, as well as in more adult scenes when they portrayed scholars. Overall every cast member played their part fantastically!

I could not write a review without mentioning the phenomenal Robyn Wilson, playing Lyra, who portrays a twelve year old so well I would ID her right now if I could! Her perfectly tactful tantrums and innocence that makes her so brave makes her an endearing and thoughtful character who entices and captures the audiences imagination. Arguably with so many lines, she carries the entire cast with her on this magical journey and creates this fascinating fantasy world before our eyes with relatable human emotions.

In addition, Alice Kirk fantastically plays a very multidimensional character, Mrs Coulter, who lures the audience into a false sense of security, with Lyra, in a deceivingly trustworthy way. Her posture and demure is one that perfectly portrays the character, and captivates the audience, and I would argue she is one of the understated stars in this production.

So if you haven’t got tickets, get tickets! You will miss out if you do not see this fantastic re-opening of the Winston Theatre that is an utter credit to the production team and the University itself, congratulations.

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