THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS: John Hester.
Chesterfield Studios: www.thenightbeforechristmastheshow.com
Runs: 1h 00m: no interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 20th December 2012.
Ideal fare for the 3-8 year-old, plus of course parents/grandparents.
As the show opens it is Christmas Eve. The lazy Chief Elf is curled up asleep in a rocking chair sucking her thumb. Milo, the Wire-Haired Jack Russell, is on her lap. But soon she’s woken by an alarm call. It’s Father Christmas; he’s run out of toys. She and her helpers have got to get to work.
There’s lots of audience involvement, of the non-threatening sort one notes – the odd sing-song with actions, and so on. Tinies sitting cross-legged at the front are willingly roped in as Assistant Elves and get to operate some toy-making machinery – there are some enjoyably mechanical sound effects and tongue-in-cheek gizmos.
Soon Father Christmas himself arrives. Turns out he’s able to suspend the passage of time as and when it takes his fancy, which explains his ability to deliver presents all over the world all in one night (well, yes) and to be in more than one place simultaneously, the Chesterfield Studios and Debenhams, for example (er … the physics is a trifle more dodgy here, surely).
We get appropriately emphatic acting from Sarah Wynne Kordas (Chief Elf), who also sings, and Adrian Lloyd James (FC). Milo, demonstrating impeccable behaviour, wins a lot of hearts.
This is your perfect antidote to the normal screen oriented Disneyised Christmas. It doesn’t patronise the children: it enriches them. And, when FC chides Chief Elf, there are some not over-earnest moral lessons about selfishness. At the end it’s presents for everyone from FC, and of course lots of picture-taking opportunities.
A packed and enthusiastic audience loved this Tabs Theatre Production.
Chief Elf: Sarah Wynne-Kordas.
Father Christmas: Adrian Lloyd James.
Milo the Dog as Himself.
Director: Karen Henson.