Father Christmas on stage at the Lyric – review
This was actually our second time seeing Father Christmas on stage at the Lyric. We first took Chiswick Boy when he was four, and Chiswick Daddy & I talked for years afterwards about how magical it was.
So when the Lyric asked me if I'd like some review tickets to go and see it this year, I said yes!
It's billed as being for age six and under, and has a really child-and-toddler-friendly playing time of just under an hour. Chiswick Boy is now eight (8! 8, I tell you! Just where has that time gone…) and still throughly enjoyed it.
Chilled out space
There are plenty of babes in arms in the audience. And the noise that toddlers and young kids make just adds to the magic, in my opinion. I remember that when we first went with Chiswick Boy it was so nice to be in an audience where we didn't have to tell Chiswick Boy to 'sh' every few minutes.
It's a space where kids, toddlers and babies can bounce up and down with exuberance, ask questions and even fall asleep on the boob without anyone tutting.
So on to the show. What is it that makes this performance (which is a bit of a Lyric theatre tradition now) such a jolly experience?
1. It's based on the Raymond Briggs Father Christmas books.
You know Raymond Briggs – he of the Snowman fame. And 'When the Wind Blows'. Oh don't get me started on Raymond Briggs. The man is a genius.
(There's also a film version of Briggs' Father Christmas, which I really recommend. We have it on a DVD coupled up with The Snowman at home and watch it many times a year.)
Briggs' Father Christmas is very English – he lives on a normal street, says 'bloomin' a lot, and suffers terribly from the cold. Seeing him potter about his house, feeding his cat, going to the loo, saying hello to the reindeer is an absolute delight.
2. The music and sound effects are simply magical
The sound effects are all created 'live' by a female musician who sits high up above the stage, creating all the sounds – from the kettle boiling, to a match being struck – with a variety of props and instruments.
She also uses a violin, cello and ukelele to create a musical backdrop.
She smiles a lot at the audience, and is really beguiling to watch. So throughout the performance you can swap between looking at her, or at the stage – great for kids with low attention spans.
3. Puppetry, live action and gorgeous scenery combined
The set is a dream. Doors and windows open; Santa walks on rooftops; He slides down a chimney; He goes to an outside loo (and talks to us on it).
The cat, dog and reindeer are hand held, realistic sized mechanical puppets.
But the centrepiece has to be the sleigh, which when it appears in a carpet of dry-ice mist leaves a lump in the throat!
The litmus test – would I honestly pay to see this?
Yes, yes and yes. I have done so in the past and will do again. If you have young kids, do take them. It's a guaranteed injection of Christmas Spirit and wonder.
Plays up to and including Christmas Eve.
Tickets a tenner each. But if your child's 18 months or younger they can sit on your knee for free.
Please note, I was given a pair of press tickets for the purposes of this review. But the words and views are entirely mine. You wouldn't want it any other way – and nor would I. (Plus Santa might put me on his naughty list.) Theatre stills belong to the Lyric.