Consistently Infrequent

February 15, 2012

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter (Bloomsbury Theatre, London, 2012)

Filed under: Theatre — Tony Breyal @ 5:43 pm


A musical about a young girl who wishes to become a firework-maker but is instead told by her father that her destiny is to find a husband and have children. *sad face*


The Bloomsbury theatre is owned by UCL (University Collage London) and located on Gordon Street in Central London’s Bloomsbury area, near Euston, Euston Square, and Warren Street tube stations, behind Tottenham Court Road. Being a modern theatre (about 43 years old) it has a seating layout for 535 seats which provide excellent legroom and a fantastic rake to provide a clear view of the stage. We were sat in the stalls, seats I30 and I31 and would happily sit there again.


As one might expect from a production aimed at children, there were many of them about. Throughout the show we could hear them talking quietly to one another, rustling bags of crisps, rustling bags of sweets, and making frequent trips to the toilet. However this was not unexpected and so one just tries to ignore it. Far more difficult to ignore and excuse are the adults who whisper far too loudly to one another or rustle their own bags of food with far too little thought for those around them.

Whenever I think of badly behaved audiences I have a automatic impulse to have a quick read of the What’s On Stage discussion board to reassure myself that I’m not the only one who gets annoyed by this behaviour:


A young girl called Lila wishes to become a firework-maker just like her father. However her father believes this to be an unsuitable job for a girl and refuses to make her his apprentice and tell her the secret all firework-maker’s must know. Lila is quite capable and has produce innovative fireworks of her own but longs to know what the secret is. Her friend Chulak on hearing of Lila’s sadness tricks Lila’s father into telling him the secret which he then tells Lila: she must journey to acquire Royal Sulphur from Razvani the Fire-Fiend at Mount Merapi. Lila sets off on her adventure and encounters four pirates on her way who at first want to kill her but change their minds when she saves their lives.

Chulak and the elephant he’s taking care of, Hamlet, go after Lila to help her because there was some information Lila’s father had not divulged to Chulak and which could lead to Lila’s death. Specifically she needs three gifts for the fire-fiend and some magic water from the Goddess of the Emerald Lake to protect her. Chulak is able to acquire the water because his reason’s are not selfish and arrives just in time to give it to Lila. However, Lila doesn’t know what the three gifts she needs are but the fire-fiend recognises the three gifts in her but still doesn’t give her the Roayl Sulphur and disapears.

When Lila, Chulak and Hamlet return home they find that Lila’s father has been imprisoned for the disappearance of Hamlet. The King agrees to release her father if she can win his firework contest which will have the greatest firework-maker’s in the world in attendance. Through hard work Lila is able to win the contest by telling her story of wanting to become a firework-maker through her firework display. With her father released he tells her that he was wrong to deny her ambition and that the three gifts she didn’t know about but had in great supply where internal ones: they are talent, courage, and luck. She has talent, having worked with her father at firework-making for many years; courage, for having undertaken the journey; and good fortune, which lies in having loyal friends, Chulak and Hamlet.


Based on the Philip Pulman story with the same name, I had high hopes, especially as Pullman was quoted to have said “One of the best productions of my work I’ve ever seen!”. I enjoyed having the musicians up on stage and being part of the natural background or having the actor’s play instruments, it just adds that extra something to the show which makes it feel a bit special. Furthermore the use of puppets to show Lila going up and falling down the mountain was just so inspiring with excellent work by everyone involved.

In terms of the music, the opening song (heard in the trailer below) was rather good and played several times throughout the show. I can’t really remember what the other songs were but I’m not sure if that’s because they weren’t particularly noteworthy or because in comparison to the opening number they just didn’t have as much impact.

Overall I though the show was OK. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again unless I needed something to take children to but that’s just because I prefer more multi-level plots.  The show itself is well written and well produced



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