The Boy Who Lost Christmas

Fri 9th – Sun 25th August 2013

reviews

Frank Lawton

at 04:35 on 18th Aug 2013

1agrees

0disagrees

Just in case you were getting bored of the intermittent sun which pretends to be our glorious summer, you can always plunge yourself into the Christmas mood by going to see this evocative, magical show.

I’m probably not the intended audience for this show, with the vast majority of the audience consisting of parents with toddlers and young children, but I still enjoyed the spectacle, the expert choreography and the inventive presentation greatly. The script is run-of-the-mill, ticking off all the famous tropes you’d expect in a good 'save Christmas' tale: we have the teddy bear companion, magically come to life, the epic journey across rooftops and mountains, the Dickensian dress, the mingling of the mythical and human, the coming together of the family and, of course, the battle between darkness and light. The ingredients are all there for a great, if somewhat predictable, Christmas plot.

The real joy in this production comes from the way in which the story is told. The play has almost no spoken lines for those on stage, who consist of Crispen (the little boy), his ted, and a cast of performers almost outside of the narrative who exist to create the space for the performance to unfold. These are the magic-makers, the sprinklers of fine dust who bring the show to life and create the ethereal and the frightening in ingenious ways, often using only sheets, torches and each other. Looking around, it was clear from the moment the play began with a burst of fire from empty palms that the children in particular where held in fascinated rapture.

The lack of lines for the performers is covered by an evocative soundtrack, which both creates atmosphere by the bucketload and times the cast’s choreography. There is, however, a soft, deep-toned narrator who speaks in a manner not unlike that of Dumbledore. This worked well, and I thought the sudden shift to lines for the cast for the final moments of the play was unnecessary and a detraction from the strongly established aesthetic.

This is a very good show, positively filmic in its scale and scope, and supremely slick for a professional show, let alone for one that is free. It is worth seeing whatever your age primarily for the production values. However, judging from the wide-eyed wonder of the young children in the audience, this is a must-see show for any family with wee nippers (we are in Edinburgh, after all...), a show that can infuse the young mind with a love of the wonder of theatre.

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Victoria Ibbett

at 09:01 on 18th Aug 2013

2agrees

0disagrees

I know of no more eloquent way to recommend this show than to describe the face of the little boy sitting behind me in the theatre, who, throughout the show, wore an expression of near comical wonder. ‘The Boy Who Lost Christmas’ is a show that restored my flagging faith in the free Fringe, and absolutely transported the entire audience, kids and grown-ups alike, for a delightful hour.

A clever, imaginative kid’s show; ‘The Boy Who Lost Christmas’ tells the story of a little boy who’s wish to spend Christmas with his father results in Christmas being abolished, compelling him to set off on an adventure to save it from the Shadow of the North. The Young People’s Theatre Company tells the story through a combination of physical theatre, puppetry and voice-over.

The plot was simple and not particularly original: a boy in a nightcap has an adventure with his teddy bear. The basic premise was as much Peter Pan as it was anything. However, the staging was phenomenal. Whether the hero was riding out a storm on an ocean of diaphanous material, or climbing a mountain created out of interlocked arms, or even clambering across the rooftops of London: there was an alternative and exciting way in which each particular part of the adventure was staged. The combination and variety of theatre types was accessible to children, and also appealing to adults, who were repeatedly surprised and drawn in by the impressive array of theatrical special effects.

The cast were impressive. Young, but confidant, it is made up of students at the Young People’s Theatre Company. The essential quality of the cast is versatility, as a chorus member can expect to play a huge range of parts, including elf, star, and guardian of the Shadow of the North. This strong cast pulled this off with aplomb, creating a show that smacked neither of unoriginality nor limitation: the parts were fluid and the atmosphere light.

I would certainly recommend this show to Fringe goers with an under-ten to entertain. I would also recommend it to adults with a free afternoon on the Fringe. This is a truly impressive performance that I was surprised and delighted to witness; it will transport both children and adults alike. And it’s free, which is frankly astonishing.

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