Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal
Philip Pullman's award winning trilogy His Dark Materials earned him a place alongside Roald Dahl, JK Rowling and other authors loved by both children and adults. So the operatic adaptation for children of his short story Clockwork has drawn much interest against a backdrop of a magnificent mechanical clock.
The opera tells the chilling tale of an apprentice clockmaker on the night before his first mechanical creation is unveiled. But Karl is dreading the great event because he has failed to make a figure. His despair is clear until a sinister stranger offers to solve his problem by giving him a readymade clockwork figure.
It soon becomes apparent the machine is not all it seems as events take a horrifying turn.
The cast of eight filled the Georgian theatre with their expressive voices, and excellent puppetry helped the mechanical movements of the clockwork figures.
Musically, Stephen McNeff's score was by turn rousing and mechanically cold while staying simple enough to hold a child's attention, and David Wood's catchy libretto captures Pullman's story well.
Martin Nelson shone as dark stranger Dr Kalmenius, and Bernadette Lord was captivating as serving girl Gretl. Peter Willcock also put in an excellent performance as the storyteller Fritz, who watches his tale run out of control.