by Cornelia Funke adapted by Stephen Sharkey and Walter Meierjohann.
Home 2 Tony Wilson Place First Street M15 4FN To 9 January 2016.
10am 6 Jan.
2.15pm 26, 28-31 Dec, 2, 7 Jan.
7pm 28-30 Dec, 2, 7-9 Jan.
Relaxed performance 7 Jan 2.15pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0161 200 1500.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 13 December.
New theatre – and novel adaptation – both earn their place on the seasonal block.
Aged 12 and motherless, but enjoying a nomadic life with her constructive-minded father Mo – he’s a bookbinder – Meggie has reached an age when the world’s realities start to impinge. No longer taken for a child, no longer limited in her reactions to the habits of a child, Meggie discovers books and their stories can be places of danger as well as comfort.
Such struggles as are read about in books can be reflected in the lives of readers; experiences in a reader’s life can be part of the human history ‘brought to life’ in books. The battle for survival ‘leaps off the page’.
In this case from Cornelia Funke’s 2003 fantasy novel (the first in a trilogy), with a complex plot built around the interchange of character and reader, manipulated by a plotter after supreme power. As such, Funke’s story both plays with and relies upon a set of more-or-less familiar folk/fairy/fantasy story tropes.
For reading, it offers the opportunity of imaginative possibilities. Placed in dramatic form in front of its intended 8-14 audiences, coming with different levels of knowledge of the story, it faces other problems – from newcomers to these events who might wonder what’s going on, to young Funke experts taking exception to a favourite moment being omitted.
More generally, while the Christmas season brings people to the theatre, they often come with seasonal expectations. This may explain the agents of darkness having a comic ineptitude – villains you love to hate rather than purely fear.
And designer Stéphane Laimé’s set, covering most of the stage with a huge mound of books, while thematically appropriate can hinder the physical action at times.
Still, Inkheart helps confirm Manchester’s still-new Home as a space for fresh ideas and approaches, somewhere that can combine the deeply serious – there’s something of the Pirandello to the interlinking of books and life here – with a sense of theatrical spectacle such as Artistic Director Walter Meierjohann’s production conjured in the final scenes of this increasingly impressive show.
There are good performances, with Rachael Atkins, in the plot’s driving seat finely mixing enthusiasm, curiosity and intelligence.
Elinor/Mortola: Rachel Atkins.
Meggie: Katherine Clifton.
Basta: Darryl Clark.
Farid: Andrei Costin.
Fenoglio: Kern Falconer.
Narrator/Resa: Kelly Hotten.
Capricorn: Will Irvine.
Mo: Paul McEwan.
Dustfinger: Andrew Sheridan.
Flatnose: Griffin Stevens.
Director: Walter Meierjohann.
Designer: Stéphane Laimé.
Lighting: Mike Gunning.
Sound: Paul Gregory.
Composer/Musical Director: Nikola Kodjabashia.
Video: Jim Dawson.
Animators: Annie Woodson, Alex Hindle.
Circus advisor: Owen Gaynor.
Costume/Assistant designer: Karoline Bierner.
Fight director: Liam Evans-Ford.
Dramaturg: Petra Jane Tauscher.
Assistant director: Cat Robey.