Youngsters provide exciting end to Pullman adventure

His Dark Materials production at The Maltings
His Dark Materials production at The Maltings

The Maltings Youth Theatre have become synonymous with success and on the basis of ‘His Dark Materials Part II’ their train doesn’t look like coming off the tracks any time soon.

Yes, once again Wendy Payn’s talented army of young actors went into the breach and came out victorious .

The complex nature of Phillip Pullman’s novels would provide a test to the most experienced thespians and directors but the matriarch of Berwick youth drama and her cast rose to the challenge.

The action in ‘His Dark Materials Part II’ flashed by at lightning pace meaning the young ensemble had to be on the ball throughout to ensure a cue wasn’t missed or stage direction not followed.

In the starring role of Lyra Belacqua, a girl with a mysterious destiny, Lucinda Lawrie led the show with poise and conviction. Her role demanded a melting pot of characteristics from bravery to compassion and Lucinda’s effortless acting flair ensured all bases were covered.

Natural acting ability was something many of the cast possessed.

The versatile Katie Hindmarsh was on top form, reprising her role of the ice cool, calm and collected Mrs Coulter while Oliver Payn impressed once again as Lord Asriel.

It’s hard to believe that those two are now considered veterans of the pack but that’s testament to the abundance of young acting talent coming through the ranks.

Introduced late on to the action of last year’s first installment, Max Manning was deservedly at the heart of proceedings this time around as Will Parry, who like Lyra, was on many people’s radar as the holder of the prized subtle knife.

Two of the characters with designs on Lyra and Will, Father President and Brother Jasper were made chillingly sinister by Frazer Smiles and David Robson.

Still in their teens, the pair have really made their mark on the local drama scene in the past two years and kept up their trend of turning in powerful performances.

The same could also be said of Christopher Maud, who first caught the attention in Mr Toad a few years ago and was once again impressive as Pantalaimon, and Berwickshire’s Frances Pattinson who embodied the strength and composure of her on stage alias Seraphina Pekkala.

Only 17, Frances is destined for a bright future on the stage.

And theatre would surely be a successful avenue for many of the cast to take should they wish to.

Sarah Rooney, Ross Graham, David Simpson and Paddy Flannigan were just four of many actors who made light work of the different roles they took on.

The hallmark of all Maltings Youth Theatre productions is the way in which they are all done with such finesse.

Wendy Payn keeps setting the bar higher with each show. ‘His Dark Materials Part II’ was another example of how she isn’t content with giving her audiences bread and butter theatre by numbers.

The use of multimedia was pinnacle to the audience having a grasp on the action and the original score composed by Paul Summers shifted gears to mirror the many twists and turns taken by the plot.

Describing the cast as an army is no exaggeration, Wendy most certainly had strength in numbers- witches, polar bears, some not so sweet and innocent children and daemons, all shared the same stage - so sincere apologies for not having the space to name check everyone.

But be assured that this was a real team effort from a group that should be holding their heads high this week.