Hobbit true to book but no subtlety

The Hobbit @ Theatre Royal, Norwich.

The Hobbit @ Theatre Royal, Norwich


Attempting to stage one of the world's best- loved children's novels was never going to be an easy task – and it's doubtful whether this production of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit fully succeeds.

It is such a powerful tale, being possibly the first true fantasy adventure of modern times, which manages to combine great characters with a coherent storyline.

It's the sort of book that inspires and encourages your own imagination as you follow Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit (played by Michael Geary), and the dwarves to the land of the Lonely Mountain in search of hidden treasures. You feel part of their expedition as they encounter all manner of dangers on their way, especially their ultimate challenge – Smaug the dragon.

Obviously condensing an enormous plot with many different threads is difficult. This show speeds along with little attention to detail.

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Sure, it stays true to the original but we feel nothing for the characters and none of Tolkien's subtleties survive.

My companion, a 30-something Tolkien aficionado, dipped out at half-time muttering about monotony, yet a small boy on the next row was on the edge of his seat throughout.

The all-male cast work hard and the set is adaptable but the much-trumpeted special effects were of little note.

Undoubtedly The Hobbit, basically a classic tale of good overcoming evil written by Tolkien for his four children, has lasting appeal but, as ever, you'd be better off reading the book.