Posted 08 January 2008 - 12:50 PM
HAVING grown up on Tintin, I approached this live-action version of his comic book adventures with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation, writes Mark Campbell.
Herge's Adventures of Tintin, first staged by the Young Vic in 2005 and now running in the West End's Playhouse Theatre, is an adaptation of Tintin in Tibet, in which the title character searches for an old friend in the Tibetan mountains, against the better judgement of those around him who fear he's been killed in a plane crash.
It is one of the most esoteric and mystical books in the canon, and deeply personal to its creator Georges Remi (AKA Hergé).
Directed by Rufus Norris, the show starts with a demented dream sequence, fantastically choreographed by Toby Sedgwick, that tries to make up for the resultant lack of action by having Tintin fight an assortment of baddies and their henchman.
When the story proper kicks in, the pace slows considerably and despite many visually arresting sequences, the two-hour running time does seem a trifle long, especially for the younger members of the audience.
That said, the casting is fabulous.
Tintin is perfectly played by Matthew Parish as a wide-eyed innocent, while his loyal friend, the loveably absurd Captain Haddock, is brought to life magnificently by a hirsute Stephen Finegold.
Snowy begins life as a real dog before transforming into actor Miltos Yerolemou in a curly wig.
Although somewhat overplayed, his boundless energy and constant canine antic (especially when drunk) are often hilarious.
In contrast, a planeload of twisted corpses makes for a very eerie scene that seems out of place in this otherwise child-friendly show, and the Yeti himself, when finally sighted, is a toweringly scary figure with a heart-stopping roar.
But there is enough good-natured clowning, clever jokes and ingenious stage effects to offset the occasional darker moment.
Paul Arditti's sound design is tremendous, while the stark white set by Ian MacNeil is augmented by Joan Wadge's colourfully evocative costumes.