On Tuesday the 2nd of December, I went to see ‘The Magic Elves’ at The Bristol Old Vic Studio with my five year old daughter, the Christmas offering from The Old Vic for the under 7’s and their families. The intimate setting of the studio stage had been transformed into ‘Discount Shoes’, a colourful shop complete with a ‘Saturday Night Fever’ style disco dance floor. Kid Carpet (aka Ed Patrick) stars as the shopkeeper and shoemaker, who really just wants to make and dance to music rather than try and pay off the ridiculous debts that the shop has found itself in. With the challenge of paying off approximately twenty eight thousand million pounds (I can’t remember the exact figure) in just 3 days, our hero has his work cut out! We then meet a series of characters that come into the shop in need of some serious shoes. Kid Carpet is not the world’s best shoemaker, so it is lucky for him that his shop is inhabited by some very silly, funny, and mysterious elves in the night, who help him with all his orders. My girl really, really wanted a pair of the flying shoes, and we are now trying to persuade her that it is going to be pretty tricky for me to get hold of a pair. She is adamant, so I may need the help of some disco loving elves myself.
The actors who play the elves and all the other characters in this sweet little story are absolute scene-stealers, using acrobatics, lights and dance to perfectly convey the humour and playfulness of their characters. And it is clear to see that all three actors have a wonderful way with children, involving them, working around them when they occasionally run around on the stage and generally making them giggle and interact. Some theatre performances for kids that I have seen have been brilliant for the kids but a bit less so for the adults. Not this one! With lots of cracking 70’s disco music and an inspired interpretation of ‘I will Survive’ by the Queen (who, naturally, is played by a man in a dress, this being a Christmas performance and all!) left the adults in the room laughing out loud. I enjoyed this performance just as much as my daughter did, which is always the measure of great kids theatre if it works on different levels. The grand finale allowed all the children to come up on the stage and dance with the characters, and it was clear to see they were thrilled with being able to take part in the show.
Overall, ‘The Magic Elves’ is a likeable, funny, gentle introduction to theatre for the younger audience. Colourful, silly, funny and entertaining, I thoroughly recommend it.
‘The Magic Elves’ is on at The Bristol Old Vic until 3rd January 2015.