The plan was to head to The Apple Store and learn all about .Mac, but this was waylaid by a replacement plan of bagsying two spare tickets for Part II of His Dark Materials at the NT from a workmate. I think things were better this way.
It's not often I submit to three hours of theatre, but they passed in a twinkling. The story has been brutally nipped and tucked, but I'm no Pullman purist and I don't mind losing bits of plot for the greater good of the narrative whole.
It was all so beautifully done; the cunning sets, the costumes, but above all the puppets. Angels and dæmons were wonderfully simple - no more than a carved head and a floating piece of fabric on wires - but in the hands of their puppeteers they became shimmering celestial messengers, a bouncy yet threatening tamarin, an elegant goose and, best of all, Lord Asriel's ineffably feline snow leopard.
The armoured bears were bloody good, too.
I do think that Pullman is heavily influenced by C. S. Lewis's Narnia books, for all his professed hatred of them. There are definite shades of The Silver Chair in his concept of the afterlife, and of The Last Battle in, well, the last battle.
I've always been left cold by Will and Lyra's twu wuv - you're fourteen, kiddies, get over it - although it was sensitively portrayed on stage. But I don't mind admitting, and it won't surprise anyone, that I mewled like an infant when Lyra went down to the underworld and had to be parted from Pantalaimon. Now my Head of Department has seen me in tears over a pantomime weasel, she may never take me seriously again.
I like the fact that Lyra's Death was played by the actor behind Pan, a fact only revealed when he took off his balaclava for the curtain call; her Death really was with her all along, but invisible. Intentional? Clever!
The concept of dæmons fascinates me, naturally. I'm amazed there isn't more HDM fanfic out there (494 stories at ff.net compared to 174140 for Harry Potter and 3475 for Animorphs, for cripes' sakes); surely travelling to an alternate world and having a special, talking, magical companion animal should be the stuff that Mary Suethors' dreams are made of?
The line that particularly resonates with me is, I think, from one of the sailors in Northern Lights; something like "There's many who hoped their dæmon would settle as a lion, and had to be content with a poodle". Relevance for the furry community there, I feel; I like to style myself a husky, but realistically I perhaps resemble a gerbil or a gecko or something. Do we pick the most appropriate animal to identify with, or the one we would like to be? And if the latter, do we then start to become more like it?
Bearing in mind, then, that dæmons settle into their final form based on the character of their person and their environment:
[Edit: You were all too polite to mention that I managed to misspell 'dæmon'. I woke in the night in a cold sweat about it.]