Review: The Firework Maker's Daughter, Keswick Theatre
By Alan Cleaver
|From L to R Front Row Declan Wilson, Joanna Holden, Phil Corbitt|
Back Row Matt Nalton
This really is a show with everything: laughter, drama, colour, music, a great story and - rather amazingly - a firework show re-created inside the theatre.
Director Stefan Escreet and set/costume designer Martin Johns have kept to a few simple set and ingenious theatrical tricks rather than complicated electronics to bring this magical tale to life. A few wooden poles are used to evoke a mountain and the minimal number of stage props conjure up a raging river. It's only in the firreworks that the skills of the lighting department (led by Andrew J Linday) are called upon. But even here, there are simple 'tricks' used to bring about everything from a single fire cracker to a fullscale firework display.
The tale itself revolves around Lila (Vera Chock) setting out to discover the final secret of making fireworks so she can win the firework competition and save the life of her father, Lalchand (Ashley Alymann). Helping her with her quest is a talking elephant - again ingeniously brought to life on stage - and the elephant's master, Rambashi (Declan Wilson).
Music, courtesy of a gamelan orchestra and composer/musical director, Chris Stones plays a large part of the show as does dance (Ella Vale). With its heroine, hero, baddies and a friendly elephant it would have been easy to convert this play into a seasonal pantomime. Stefan draws back from drowning a good story in "Oh yes he did, oh no he didn'ts" - but some comic devices, such as the clap-ometer, are rather thrown away despite an audience keen to get more involved in Lila's quest. Moments of tense drama are also lost on occasion in this fast-paced show.
The colour, sound visual feast that is The Firework-Maker's Daughter will stay long in the memories of audiences long after the curtain falls. It's a show children, adults and pensioners will love - and it's absolutely perfect for the Christmas holiday.
- The Firework Makers Daughter runs at Keswick Theatre until January 8. Box office: 017687 74411.