'The Night Before Christmas' – Little Angel Theatre
‘The Night Before Christmas’ is yet another superb production by the Little Angel Theatre, with all elements cared for to the last detail. Ben Glasstone displays a myriad of talents as director and co-writer, as well as composer and lyricist for the original and lively musical score. The transitions between scenes are smooth, owing much to the inventive and efficient decor of Michael Fowkes and the expressive lighting touches of David Duffy.
A cast of equally talented actors/puppeteers – Michael Brett, Ruth Calkin and Clare Pointing – bring this delightful winter tale to life. The puppets are masterfully manipulated in full view and the characters are utterly engaging; I was completely taken by a Christmas stocking called Sarah, who sings out in grand style her personal tragedy of being ‘empty’ if Christmas ends up not happening. Each puppeteer takes on the role and gives voice to particular characters, but they also alternate positions to manipulate other puppets in an almost unnoticeable, seamless manner.
The puppets themselves are in harmony with the overall aesthetic of the production, which is like a three-dimensional picture book. Each puppet, particularly the reindeers, display distinctive visual features that express their personality. Scale is played with throughout, with different sized versions of each character to signify distance, as well as to connect to different emotional landscapes. The result is magical.
The story is an adaptation of the much loved poem by Clement Clarke Moore and is about the adventurous journey of a girl called Lara who, in the spur of the moment, writes a hapless letter to Father Christmas after having a fight with her annoying little brother. By a strange turn of events, she ends up meeting Father Christmas and his helpers face to face, who are not in the best of situations themselves!
Through subtle and intelligent humour, the show appeals equally to both adults and children in the audience. The pace is varied, always introducing new and charming elements of surprise, for example the cameo appearance of a penguin half way through, or the moment when the stars engage in casual conversation.
‘The Night Before Christmas’ is the perfect show for the festive season. It’s charming without being sickly sweet. It is also funny, light and entertaining. A must see for grown-up children.
'The Night Before Christmas'
Little Angel Theatre
Directed by Ben Glasstone
Music and Lyrics by Ben Glasstone
Co-written by Ben Glasstone & Tim Kane
Designed by Michael Fowkes