In part, this is because it's done in very broad brush strokes. Condensing 1200 or so pages into slightly less than six hours means you're looking at over two hundred pages an hour, or more than three a minute. So an awful lot of the detail, background and description that make the books a fab read for adults as well as children has vanished, along with a whole host of memorable scenes.
In some cases, this has extended to the acting - I did wonder if Timothy Dalton has been taking lessons from Brian Blessed because he SHOUTS A LOT.
But Lyra and her best friends are very good and the puppetry is wonderful: I spent much of the time looking at the daemons rather than the human actors.
And it certainly moves along, assisted by probably the hardest workout the Olivier Theatre's revolving drum has had since Wind in the Willows. (The back stage crew get a deserved bow at the end.) Being in the front row, it was usually possible to hear the sets being moved about and I'd be interested to know if that's the case elsewhere in the auditorium.
In fact, the overall effect is such that I wasn't feeling tired at all while it was on, despite being somewhat sleep-deprived. Impressed, moved and amused, yes, but not tired. Once it was over, I felt it and I was barely half awake when I got home about fifty minutes later.
So... an absolute bargain at £10 for day seats and definitely worth the £34 quid most of the adults were paying. Given a cast size of thirty and the rôle the revolving drum plays, there is no way this will transfer.
If you haven't already got tickets, I'm afraid that with the exception of one matinee for Part I, it's sold out. I got there to queue at 7am, the second person arrived at 7:20am, and the twelve front row seats would have been taken by people who arrived before 8am. The other eighteen or so are at the back and side of the circle, and anyone arriving by 9am would have been too late to sit - standing tickets are available, again at the back of the circle, but they're both loonnngggg plays.
The alternative is hoping for returns - there was someone who'd bought two day seats and was trying to sell one to the returns queue for £20! - or that it'll return this time next year (Wind in the Willows did... several times)