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Posts Tagged ‘Ella Dacres’

The 2003 stage adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy was a highlight of Nicholas Hytner’s period at the NT, now the first book of his next trilogy is one of the best things the Bridge Theatre has done since it opened in 2017. Pullman has said the Book of Dust trilogy is not a prequel, the second part jumping forward twenty years, but this first part is. Bryony Lavery’s adaptation worked for a friend who’d read the book, another who hadn’t read any Pullman, and me – a devotee of HDM with this book waiting to be read, another lockdown failure.

It concerns the baby Lyra, daughter of Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel and the subject of a prophesy, and the battle for her guardianship / fate up to the point she takes refuge in Jordan College. Malcolm, the 12-year-old son of the landlady of the Trout Inn seeks to protect her, with the aid of the pub’s helper Alice, one order of nuns, rebel leader Boatwright, academics Dr. Relf & Lord Nugent, a good witch and her father, whilst the all powerful Magisterium, another order of nuns, a rogue academic and her mother have other plans! It races along, but I thought it was very clear storytelling.

Bob Crowley’s design relies upon the extraordinary projections of Luke Halls, which move you from pub to convent to college and many more locations, and create rivers, storms and floods that take your breath away. With a thrust stage and a back rake this is at times intimate and at times epic. A visual treat. The daemons are puppets, the smaller of which sit on their host, with the bigger ones manipulated by actors, some of whom speak.

The exceptional cast include actors of the stature of Dearbhla Molloy, John Light, Naomi Fredericks, Pip Carter, Holly Atkins, Nick Sampson and Julie Atherton (who gamely covered Malcolm’s daemon Asta on the night I went), but it’s Samuel Creasey as Malcolm and Ella Dacres as Alice who carry the play. This is Creasey’s stage debut, one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen, with newcomer Dacres shining alongside him. The chemistry between them is superb.

I thought it was a captivating evening of storytelling, family theatre at its best. Don’t miss.

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