(C) ROH, Photo Alastair Muir
The Firework-Maker’s Daughter was first premiered in 2013 and quickly gained a reputation for an innovative and entertaining production based on a novel by Philip Pullman . With music by David Bruce and Glyn Maxwell’s libretto, this revival of The Firework-maker’s Daughter in the Linbury Studio theatre has been timed to give the audience a pre – christmas treat.
The story is based in an unnamed Far Eastern kingdom and centres around Lila who is the firework-maker’s daughter with ambitions to follow in her father’s footsteps to create spectacular fireworks. Her father believes the profession is too dangerous for his daughter and considers she should get married and have children. Determined to prove to her father wrong, Lila and her friends Hamlet, the King’s love sick white elephant, and Chulak, the elephant scrubber embark on an adventure to obtain some Royal Sulphur which is a key ingredient in firework making.
The story is told through live action, music from the chamber ensemble Chroma and the ingenious shadow-puppets provided by the Indefinite Articles company. From a bare stage we are transported into exotic landscapes full of animals and spirits in which our heroes meet a number of characters along the way including the failed pirate Rambashi.
After crossing rivers and climbing a volcano, our heroine Lila approaches the cave of Razvani, the Fire Fiend who asks if she has the three gifts or some enchanted water. Lila is faced with the raging fire until Hamlet and Chulak arrive to save the day, Razvani takes pity on the girl and tell her the truth that Royal Sulphur is just an illusion and the three gifts do not exist. Lila begins to feel sorry for herself until the echoes in the cave tell her that her father has been arrested for treason.
The three friends hurry home to find the King deciding the fate of the elderly firework maker who is languishing in prison, Lila and Chulak both try to take the blame for the firework maker but are thrown into prison. It is left to Hamlet to whisper in the King’s ear with the suggestion of a Firework competition to find the greatest firework maker in the world.
It is within the competition that the true ingenuity of the Indefinite Articles company comes into play, each competitor displays a dazzling array of colours and shapes on the screen before the winner is finally announced.
In the world full of computer graphics, this production illustrates the possibility of using other media to create a narrative that stimulates the audience’s imagination. The libretto and music provided the soundtrack to a fantastic adventure populated by a talented ensemble of performers. John Fulljames provided an assured direction to quite a complex production and the set design by Dick Bird created intricate worlds within worlds.
This is a production that entranced the audience who responded enthusiastically the various twists and turns of the plot. However, like many successful children’s productions it can enjoyed on many different levels and is suitable for all age groups over the age of six.
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
If you would like further information or buy tickets, visit the Royal Opera House website here
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