Reviewed at the ADC Cambridge

Rather risky for Philip Pullman, trusting Holly Race and Mutabilitie Productions to transpose his convoluted allegorical Clockwork successfully within the intimate confines of the Larkum studio at the Cambridge ADC. A risk worth taking however, and perhaps better judgement than letting Hollywood loose on his Golden Compass. Mutabilitie has created a mesmerising interpretation that deserves a larger audience than this short run can absorb.

Pullman’s fairytale of human fallibility centres on the inevitable consequences of choice. An aspirational clockmaker and a prince seeking posterity make (lethal, as it turns out) pacts with the devil. Director/producer Race feeds the fantasy with a steampunk design and inspired shadow puppet lighting, leading you up the forest path and into the heart of a ravenous wolf pack.

A fast-moving performance is held together by Matt Jamie’s conjouring of a commandingly chilling ‘Dr. Kalmenius’, by Eleanor Buchan’s playful ‘Gretl’ and the understated charm of Katie Alcock’s mute ‘Florian’. A few rough edges amongst the less seasoned actors are subsumed by pace and passion.

Moral messages that permeate Pullman’s text resonate well in a university setting. Do not cheat. Do not leave things until the last minute. Certainly do not miss this playful concoction. Follow Mutabilitie to their next surprise offering - this courageous company are “all wound up”.

- Ros Aveling