Some tweaking since last year – the French girl is no longer a puppet, the naïve hand-held ombres chinoises have been replaced by more sophisticated projection, and Major Nicholls no longer reappears as a “ghost”, but the breathtakingly lifelike Joey and Topthorn are as good as ever, and John Tams 's music is in the excellent hands of folk singerTim van Eyken .
The human cast struggle to match the impact of the equine performers. But Patrick O'Kane as the “good German” Muller was outstanding, Bronagh Gallagher was a convincing wife and mother, and Kit Harington had some moving moments as the boy Albert. Not forgetting, of course, Finn Caldwell's scene-stealing goose.
This superb production, directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, combining a huge cast with masterly lighting and brilliant music, remains a worthy successor to His Dark Materials and Coram Boy. A South Bank sell-out for two seasons, it transfers at the end of March to the New London in Drury Lane.
Before the New Year's Eve matinee, early revellers danced in the Lyttleton foyer to Los Mareados playing Piazzolla.