This Lyric Christmas staple brings Raymond Briggs’s ‘Father Christmas’ to enchanting life. The author of ‘The Snowman’ is known for his beautiful depictions of the season – and this adaptation by theatre company Pins and Needles is equally charming.
Zoe Squire’s hand-painted set has an old-school appeal to it, complete with gorgeous wooden animal puppets by Max Humphries. Santa’s sleigh is a spectacle: his huge reindeers gallop through the dry ice that slowly fills the stage. And the twinkling fake snow gives a truly chilly atmosphere.
In an original twist, Kate Adams performs the music and sound effects live on stage, perched in an attic-style room above the action. She rattles maracas when Father Christmas (Vic Llewellyn) shakes salt on his breakfast, whistles when the kettle boils and becomes a well-spoken radio voice reporting snowy weather.
In the spirit of the book it’s based on, Llewellyn – who’s the spitting image of Briggs’s drawing – is a rather grumpy Santa, moaning about the ‘bloomin’ cold’ and ‘bloomin’ chimneys’ as he performs his Christmas duties.
All good, but although you’d hardly expect a complex plot in a play for the under-sixes, the complete lack of storyline means it’s not really going to be that stimulating for accompanying adults and older children. A large section of the play is simply Father Christmas’s morning routine, and the focus throughout is very much on sounds and sights. There are a couple of comic moments; a little bit of toilet humour always goes down well with little ones, and when Father Christmas falls over slapstick-style the kids have a good giggle. But it’s certainly not going to keep them – or you – laughing from start to finish.
That said, it is a lovely bit of staging, and will definitely put the kids in a Christmassy mood as they wait for the big day.
Find more family Christmas shows in London
Find more festive fun with our guide to Christmas in London