Do you like puppets? Singing? Hot men with guitars? Impressions of Captain Jack Sparrow? and most importantly, fireworks? Then this is the show for you.
The Firework-maker’s Daughter (just rolls of the tongue doesn’t it?) is the perfect antidote to the tried and tested pantomime that normally fills up this family theatre season. This brilliant mix of magical adventure, musical and with a dash of genuine scares can’t come recommend highly enough.
If you know Pullmans children’s tales then you will have a fair idea what to expect here. Two kids, Lila and Chulak in this case, with parental issues go on a jaunt for some magical whatsamadoosit. Along the way they learn about themselves, meet a whole bunch of wacky characters in various shades of moral greyness and the audience learn that authority figures tend to be a bit dim and spoilt.
The MacGuffin this time is that Lila really really wants to be a Firework-maker, but her Dad is all like ‘No!’ and she is all like ‘Why?’ and he’s all like ‘Jus’ cus.’
This production takes a risk of casting fully grown adults in the roles of the two kids, with the wrong cast this could come across a little creepy but on this occasion it works perfectly. The beautiful Alexander Scott channels the enthusiasm of every eight year old, swinging his arms uncontrollable with excitement. The way he links arm to trunk with his talking elephant Hamlet in such an adorable way would make the coldest of hearts melt.
Jennifer O’Neil is slightly less charming in the lead role of Lila, but this is less to do with her acting and more with the script. Do you know she wants to be a Firework-maker? Well by the end of this play you will be so sick of hearing it you will just want her to fail. Whilst her acting didn’t always convey the fear and excitement of a girl going on the longest and most dangerous job interview, she remains likeable none-the-less.
As for the rest of the cast everything is pretty solid, Craig Painting brought an awkward Johnny Depp energy to Rambashi the occasional pirate. A special mention has to go to Natasha Lewis, her voice added a magic and an other worldliness which really brought the audience into this foreign land.
The Firework-maker’s daughter is proof that ‘The Lion King’ is the gift that keeps on giving. The animal puppetry takes a similar minimalist approach which works to excellent effect. One scene involving a fabric mountain and a small puppet created a marvellous moment of theatre that won’t be easily forgotten.Similar attention to detail was offered to the rest of the costume, Lila and Chulak have to face off against some terrifying monster creations.
This is family theatre for the Pixar generation, missing out would be missing a treat.
**The Firework-maker’s daughter is on at Bloomsbury Theatre until 17 December and then 9-21 January. Tickets cost £19.50 with concessions available.