Adapted for the stage from Alessandro Baricco’s novel, this wonderfully creative piece of musical theatre, winner of the Northern Stage Title Pending Award, is completely magical. Whimsical without being twee, it features an array of eccentric characters in fictional town Quinnipak, centring on the visionary glass-maker Mr Rail. The exquisite glass orchestra, carefully unpacked from wooden crates onstage, doubles as the set.
The production is visually very pleasing, the delicate and crystalline instruments perfectly suited to the tone of the material, providing constant gentle background music to the action. Beccy Owens’s impressively-ranged singing hinges together the performance beautifully.
The five-strong cast deftly slip between various personae, portraying a character list much larger than their numbers. The whole thing is kind of manically fast-paced, fitting of a fictional world in which huge excitements – a crystal palace, a new kind of (steam) engine, a character’s destiny – are always on the horizon. There’s some light and humorous audience participation, which just adds to the sense of fun surrounding this piece.
Playing to a delighted audience which packed the modest venue, you can imagine this production effortlessly filling a much larger space. It takes a special show to be recommendable to pretty much anyone, and this one manages it.
Words: Hilary White
Lands of Glass, Summerhall, Aug 6 – 24 (not 12, 16, 19), 16:35