Special mention has to go to the puppeteers, in particular Gerard Casey as Pantalaimon and Ben Thompson as Mrs Coulter’s golden monkey, who portray the daemons, the physical manifestations of the characters’ souls. Their incredible synthesis of animal movement and human interactions create real characters out of the puppets and really add another level to the action on the stage and if there is another scene which makes me cry as much as when Lyra and Pan are separated in the Land of the Dead, I will be very surprised. The polar bears were also well-realised with some well-drilled menace evident from their first appearance.
The only criticisms I had were around the portrayal of the angels Balthamos and Baruch. Played quite camply as comic relief, they got a lot of cheap (homophobic?) laughs and their role seems to have been pruned quite severely. So much so that by the time we’ve rushed to Baruch’s death scene, people are still giggling and the impact of what is a beautifully portrayed, moving death is considerably lost. Another minor point was that I felt Asriel should have been portrayed as less of a power-hungry villain and more avuncular in order that one feels more sympathy for his crusade against the Authority, but I suppose this is more about my interpretation of his character than anything.
So whilst your wallet and your bum may not thank you for the expense and the length, I would highly recommend tracking down this play if it comes near you. It really is one of the best things you could hope to see!