SPELLBINDING trilogy His Dark Materials is currently being performed by a company of 160 - the Young People's Theatre stages this ambitious project, created over two years, at the Theatre Royal Bath until next Sunday (April 20).

His Dark Materials is a stage adaptation of Philip Pullman's multi-award-winning trilogy of novels - Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass (winner of the prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year in 2001). The trilogy was voted 3rd by the British public in the BBC's 2003 Big Read poll, after The Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice; and in 2005, Philip Pullman was congratulated by national government for his services to literature, particularly for encouraging children to read. This stage adaptation of the novels by Nicholas Wright was first performed by the National Theatre in December 2003, where it was a massive success.

His Dark Materials takes audiences on a thrilling journey through worlds familiar and unknown in a story of courage and humanity, about a boy and a girl with a destiny to fulfil. For the two central characters, Lyra and Will, it is a transforming experience. Their great quest demands a savage struggle against the most dangerous of enemies. They encounter fantastical creatures in parallel worlds - rebellious angels, soul-eating spectres, child-catching gobblers and the armoured bears and witch-clans of the Arctic.

The riveting story from three books unfolds over the course of two plays (which can be watched in one day or on consecutive nights). Both performances in this epic adventure may be enjoyed independently.

In October, the cast of the Young People's Theatre production of His Dark Materials received expert advice from none other than the original author of the worldwide sensation, Philip Pullman, when he accepted an invitation to join them in rehearsal at the Theatre Royal Bath. The writer, who is a patron of the Pegasus Youth Theatre in Oxford, spent several hours answering questions which the young actors put to him about the story and the characters they were lined up to play.

The production sees seven of the cast members flying on stage.

Members of the acting company are aged between nine and 19 years, and the young people involved in this major theatrical project hail from all over the South West.

A team of 18 young people are also working behind the scenes with the Theatre Royal's professional production team and technicians to assist with stage management, lighting, sound, set design, props and wardrobe. In addition, six undergraduates from Bath Spa University have placements assisting on the production backstage.

Director Lee Lyford's many productions for the YPT at the Theatre Royal include the sell-out success of Peter Pan in the main house, Guys and Dolls in the egg theatre and My Life as Fairytale for Storm on the Lawn. Lee recently choreographed The Ugly Duckling for Bristol's Tobacco Factory and directed A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Shakespeare Unplugged Festival in February.