Two young people and their dæmons, with everything at stake, find themselves at the centre of a terrifying manhunt. In their care is a tiny child called Lyra Belacqua, and in that child lies the fate of the future.
As the waters rise around them, powerful adversaries conspire for mastery of Dust: salvation to some, the source of infinite corruption to others.
Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage is set twelve years before the epic His Dark Materials trilogy. Bryony Lavery’s stage adaptation was first performed at the Bridge Theatre, London, in December 2021, directed by Nicholas Hytner, whose groundbreaking production of His Dark Materials was a critical and commercial success at the National Theatre.
‘Once in a lifetime a children’s author emerges who is so extraordinary that the imagination of generations is altered’ New Statesman on Philip Pullman
‘High-octane adventure accompanies ingenious plotting during Lyra’s extended journey in a canoe down a dangerously flooded Thames’ The Times on Philip Pullman’s novel
‘An imaginative adaptation which keeps alive the wit and excitement of the book’ Guardian on Bryony Lavery’s version of Treasure Island
‘A theatrical marvel… Bryony Lavery’s adaptation is lean without short-changing us on the story… The central, ideological battle between scientists and the sinister forces of the Magisterium is captured with a clean economy… The stage is action-filled with one dangerous turn after another… keeps closely to Pullman’s earth-bound and realistic brand of fantasy… the ultimate Christmas show – with sacrilegious twists’
‘A galloping adventure full of wonder and confusion… Bryony Lavery has streamlined, clarified and occasionally improved the story’
— Evening Standard
‘A rollicking adaptation… Lavery carefully pares the story back to its essence: the relationship between innkeeper’s son Malcolm and pot washer Alice. She also brings a key ingredient, entirely missing from the books: humour’
— The Stage
‘A terrific piece of story-telling, confident and enthralling, a dark Christmas treat’
‘Ingenious and beguiling… a compelling narrative for our times… It’s a testament to Lavery’s adaptation that we always sense [Pullman’s] conceptual complexity at the same time as being able to enjoy La Belle Sauvage as a fly-by-the-seat of your pants adventure… a narrative that richly reflects our rapidly changing world. There’s a lot of great theatre playing in London right now, but this is where to head for if you’re looking for something with as much intelligence and provocation as fleet-footed fun’
— The Arts Desk
‘Truly extraordinary… playwright Bryony Lavery and director Nicholas Hytner attach jumper cables to the audience’s imagination… The triumph of Lavery’s deft adaptation is that scenes never feel schematic… Characterization of even the tiniest roles is instantly vivid… But it’s Lavery’s notable use of humor that helps keep everything buoyant… Her adaptation is a textbook example of skilled translation for the stage. It’s not just a condensation; she adds characters and rethinks moments to keep a foot firmly on the accelerator… redolent of the best classic work built around young characters: it’s as satisfying for parents as it is for children’
‘Is Bryony Lavery Philip Pullman’s daemon? Her adaptation goes to the heart of Pullman’s book and, daemon-like, expresses its essence. Clear and swift, it brings an extra bounce of humour to the tangle of speculation and saltiness that makes the novel at once provoking and compelling’