It has become a tradition to catch some sort of a Christmas show around this time of year for our family and generally to find something less obvious or grandiose.
In the last few years we’ve seen Nottingham’s traditional panto which was strikingly different due to its much loved returning cast, hard earned comic timing and obvious rapport with the Nottingham locals.
Father Christmas was a show that relied upon simple but effective props and imaginative use of the small stage as well as its charismatic lead man for an unforgettable, magical rendition of Raymond Briggs’ graphic novels.
This year was a rather mysterious proposition, a curious mixture of forest fairies, traditional music, a cast of woodland creatures and a unique eccentricity. The Night that Autumn turned to Winter, much like Father Christmas is reliant on a small stage of ingenious props, a tiny cast and some beautifully executed music and singing.
I personally had no idea what to expect, the fairies welcoming us to our seats were unlike those normally found in such stories, far more charming for dressing like boy scouts or girl guides, dressed in khaki and long shorts and with a sincerity about their mission to be guardians of the forest. However, far from being any kind of authority, mostly they are at the mercy of the creatures they are introducing the audience too.
Usually this takes the form of simple late autumn traditions while waiting for the final leaf to fall, coaxing out of rabbits, squirrels, foxes using various techniques deployed by the fairies, some involving a little audience participation and always a charming original song or unique rendering of something more famous.
The musicianship was beautifully executed, the songs engaging and delightful and the comedy relentlessly amusing, finally topped with the appearance of the rather regal and impressive winter unicorn. While every cast member had their moment to shine, ‘Pat’ or Patricia stole the show with her remarkable singing ability and precision comic timing.
A total blast for the family, highly recommended and the accompanying CD’s purchased post event are on constant rotation in our house.
On at time of writing Battersea Arts Centre.