The Elf Express
In a world that is increasingly cynical, filled with gloom and doom, how refreshing it is to go along to see a seasonal show. And this one is not only seasonal but specifically written for very young children and their families. Well formed in every sense, from length to content this was the nicest kind of entertainment, one that the busy audience of youngsters, babes in arms to just pre-teen, mums and dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents simply lapped up. You may ask why and for me the answer lies in well crafted material delivered by a very professional and talented company who simply understood their given audience.
The plot is simple, as it needs to be, but what the creators Jack Pallister and Allison Ferns, yes her from the BBC and soon to appear in Aladdin, what they have done is understood how to engage their audience. The elves are a delight, Megan O’Hara, Alfie Murray, Chloe Pearce and and Lena Tsvari, some sassy and some silly, Mrs Claus, Sharon Starr, is cuddly and caring and Thistle, Carl Lovejoy, is the perfect baddy, a glittery naughty elf who stirs up the boos and jeers without terrifying the audience. Santa who appears on screen is played by Graeme Munce and is the perfect representation of the roly poly bearded icon, no messing with tradition here.
There are a few “adult” gags in there but nothing to shock and embarrass and I was impressed by how many of the younger members of the audience booed at the political jibes, it gives you faith that the future may be in safer hands.
Jack Pallister’s choreography is first class too, what’s not to love about a line of high kicking or tap dancing elves, and the songs have been tweaked into place, some familiar but with lyrics suited to the narrative rather than lazily and irrelevantly plonked into the whole.
There’s also some very poignant plotting too, the story whilst fun is also one that highlights the concept of forgiveness and also of self worth and self belief.
There’s plenty to love in this Christmas tale, audience participation in a silly song that the kids loved, and grown ups found embarrassing, booing and cheering and the jingling of bells. As a man of a “certain age” I left with a smile on my face knowing that proper kids theatre is alive and high kicking!