The Little Angel's Christmas show is this endearing off-piste Dahl adaptation
‘Is it electric?’ asks my three-year-old at the first sight of Billy, the young boy at the heart of this fun, inventive adaptation of one of Roald Dahl’s lesser-known stories. That’s unlikely: the Little Angel is Islington’s much-cherished puppet theatre – a warm and welcoming shrine to the sort of storytelling that’s ideologically hand-crafted and hand-engineered. Billy might be neither electric nor flesh, but this magic production breathes life into wire and wood in a way that should delight the imaginations of both kids and adults.
Set in a familiar Dahl world of villages, irascible land owners and characterful talking animals, ‘The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me’ is a gift to puppeteers – each character comes with an entirely different set of physical challenges and emotional woes. Young Billy lusts over an empty sweet shop in his village and dreams of running it, while the oddball new tenants – a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey – are each lusting over their depleted foodstuff of choice and grumbling about a lack of work. Luckily, together they’re able to run the world’s most efficient window-cleaning service. When they visit a dotty old aristocrat with infinite dirty windows, it’s their chance to turn their fortunes around for good. With Billy in tow, they also stumble over the opportunity to foil an attempted robbery by a sad, misunderstood criminal, The Cobra, a human with a long and bendy mid-section, perfect for house-breaking and puppeteering...
Even kids as young as three should warm to this lively, soulful show, especially as it runs to little more than an hour. The colourful design takes Quentin Blake’s illustrations as its lead. The four tireless puppeteers offer some cunning, endearing movement and voice work (imagine a flying pelican or a melancholic giraffe). The show even has its own 3D moment when the giraffe’s neck swings out into the Little Angel’s tiny audience. A true winter warmer.