The Magic Pudding.
The biggest challenge posed by bringing The Magic Pudding to the stage is what to do with the star of the show? Having a person play an inexhaustible bowl of pudding would be hard to swallow. In this regard the Marian Street Theatre for Young People production was a triumph. Albert - as the Magic Pudding is known - was a puppet, both beautifully crafted by the Sydney Puppet Theatre and superbly manipulated by his master pulling the strings, Tristan McKinnon.
His expressions and movements were always amusing and apt. Overall the production looked gorgeous. There was a touch of shadow puppetry, a clever set and authentic costumes which you could imagine had leapt from the pages of the children's classic, first published in 1918.
The granddaughter of Norman Lindsay was in the audience and gave it her seal of approval.
Other aspects of the production were less satisfying. With an orchestra of two it, was hard to do justice to the music. Albert is a rather cranky soul, so it is difficult to feel sorry for his fate, or empathise for his original custodians.
When he was re-united with them at the end of the first act, there was an overwhelming feeling that the show had finished. After sixty minutes, many of the youngsters in the audience felt they had had enough.
The second act was, to our relief, a big improvement on the first act. The jokes were punchier, the tunes easy to digest and a few teaspoons of audience participation was just the tonic.
This current version is a little over cooked. If 15 minutes can be trimmed from the ingredients then it has the potential to please even the most discerning palates.
Image: Tristan McKinnon with 'Albert' the Magic Pudding