Philip Pullman's The Ruby in the Smoke

Philip Pullman

Reprint Productions

Pleasance Dome

From 03 August 2016 to 29 August 2016

Rating: ****

Review by Robin Strapp

Condensing a 200-page novel into an hour of theatre must be a daunting task especially if it’s Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke but Reprint Productions has successfully managed to keep all the key elements of the story in this powerful production.

It follows the exploits of Sally Lockhart who lost her father at sea and is to be looked after in London by her Aunt who will become her guardian. She is given a letter that makes little sense but she is to be wary of the “7 Blessings” that produces catastrophic results.

This is a true adventure story set in the Victorian London with its opium dens, criminals, thugs, mystery and intrigue as Sally goes in search of the missing ruby left to her by her father, although there are unscrupulous others trying to find it.

Some of the cast play multiple characters with great effect and are totally convincing in a play filled with emotion and tension.

There are many good comedy aspects that had the audience laughing and it’s skilfully staged with great attention to detail.

The clever set of London’s city is artfully lit and full of surprises with hidden doors revealing many of the props, which helps to set the ever-changing scenes. The use of lanterns is particularly effective in creating the mood.

This is an accomplished production that is hugely enjoyable.