Initially, the Golem of this production is a clay-like figure regarded with relative nonchalance by the ingenuous characters of lower-middle-class British society, while it performs domestic and professional tasks. During updates, the head morphs a dozen ways, Beetlejuice-style, though the 2.0 version comes out looking like a small, overdressed doll.

Beyond bringing this imaginary creature to life, the animation (designed by 1927 co-founder Paul Barritt) was mainly of use for secondary matters, almost like incidental music, bolstering transitional passages and scene-setting, although it was so imposing that everything else, including the Lillian Henley score, was secondary.

Members of the cast - Will Close, Esme Appleton, Lillian Henley, Rose Robinson, and Shamira Turner - were perfectly coordinated on Wednesday but were too often reduced to narrative automatons serving the needs of Suzanne Andrade's parable-like script, besides being perhaps straightjacketed by the production's intricate demands.

Will The Magic Flute's characters have the same fate? Not likely. Mozart's music gives his stick-figure characters a warmth and humanity that cool, more impersonal digitally-crafted imagery can't take away.

dstearns@phillynews.com