Sparkling Christmas Show

Jane Mitchell warms to The Firework Maker’s Daughter



It’s a book and a play, and it’s four words. The Firework Maker’s Daughter started out as a school play when fledgling writer Philip Pullman was still teaching. He became the first author to win The Whitbread Book of the The Year with a children’s book, The Amber Spyglass 2002. If reading is not your bag then you may remember the film The Golden Compass 2007 starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, based on his Northern Lights, another component of His Dark Materials trilogy.

The Firework Maker’s Daughter takes place ‘a thousand miles ago, in a country east of the jungle and south of the mountains’. Adapted by Stephen Russell directed by Stephan Escreet it is up and running at The Theatre by the Lake Keswick until January 7th.

This is the story of Lila’s quest to discover the secret of the the Firework Maker’s craft in which she embarks on a journey to Mt Merapi and the Fire Fiend’s abode. Meanwhile best friend Chulak, and a talking, but not loquacious, elephant (I loved his eyes) set off to help her.

The Firework Maker’s Daughter is everything a Christmas show should be. Vibrantly, nay, exotically, colourful, with pirates armed and dangerous with knives, swords and wooden spoons, a King, a goddess, songs and music a-plenty, courtesy of a gamelan orchestra (no, I didn’t know either – Indonesian gongs, chimes and drums) and enough ‘behind you’s!’ boos and hisses to shake a sparkler at.

There’s a firework maker’s competition too, complete with a clapometer, guaranteed to engage even the most reticent in judging the best FWM, and – fun.

The wonderfully inventive set took us into the Indonesian jungle, within the fire fiend’s cave, and had us believing the fireworks and fire were continuing over our heads enclosing us in the frenetic action. Most importantly of all, the enthusiastic audience stole the show; tiger, ‘TIGER!’ elephant ‘ELEPHANT!’ volcano; ‘VOLCANO!’ Forget about the double dip recession, the need to apply for a bale-out fund for your Christmas shopping and what to get that difficult relative – take the kids, granny, or go on your own…I beseech you – this is the real meaning of a family Christmas!

Oh yes it is!

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