Ethereal terror by moonlight, impossible love between opposites, magical living dolls and murderous obsession. It sounds like material enough for several plays, and yet this is merely the first act of this pacy new adaptation of Angela Carter's novel The Magic Toyshop. New student company Flipping The Bird are showing admirable ambition in choosing to dramatise a twentieth-century literary heavyweight, but the play they produce is a mixed affair.

The story focuses on three orphans sent to live with their mysterious Uncle Philip at his toyshop among his magical puppets. The performances are good throughout and Bella Hamed as heroine Melanie ably knits together the fantasy and real worlds the play presents. Will Spray as the malicious uncle is also suitably chilling and repulsive. Additionally, the production values are superb. The set is intelligently and artfully designed, commenting on the way Melanie is objectified by the men around her. Props shift convincingly between uses, the jerky movement of the puppet actors is neatly observed, and Laurence Osborn's music adds to the pervasive atmosphere of discomfort throughout.

However, not everything works quite as well. The political concerns of the original such as the role of 'women's magazines' feels dated. They don't translate well for a modern audience who seem more likely to be reading Heat than Woman's Own. The quoting of poetry to highlight themes also feels awkward. The love interest, Finn, talks about poetry and art but in way that suggests confusion about who this character is, rather than hidden redemptive depths. Additionally, including the incest storyline from the original feels unnecessary. It isn't given time to be explored in a meaningful way and seems only to add shock value.

Overall, this a brave play that should be applauded for its ambition and suggests good things to come in the future from the company. Despite this, the play still feels less than the sum of its many good parts. Arguably the problems largely lie with the original, which although it lends itself to some dramatic visual staging, is complex and full of difficult themes which are tough to reduce into a successful script. Being fair, it seems the best parts of this adaptation come from the company directly, while the faults can all be traced back to the story they have chosen to adapt.This is challenging but rewarding new theatre and worth catching despite its faults.