Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas is an absolute festive classic and one I have fond memories of from my own childhood so when I saw that the amazing Pins and Needles Productions would be performing their adaption of the story on stage at Waterside this Christmas, I just knew we had to pop along.
We had seen the Pins and Needles Productions performance of The Bear at Waterside last Christmas so we had high hopes for our Thursday evening jaunt to the theatre and I’ll tell you now, we weren’t disappointed! In fact, at the end of the show Dave said to me “That was just brilliant, I think I could happily come and watch it without the kids!” There are plenty of times I’ve taken the children on adventures and the majority of the pleasure for us as parents comes from watching them enjoy themselves, but when it comes to watching a Pins and Needles Productions performance, we find ourselves just as enthralled as the children.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas (have you been living under a rock?) then essentially it tells a tale of a rather grumpy but entirely lovable Father Christmas preparing for the busiest day of his year – from the moment his alarm clock goes off on Christmas Eve morning to him delivering presents around the world and back home again, to his pets Cat and Dog, to enjoy his own Christmas dinner.
The story of Father Christmas has been adapted for stage beautifully with every memorable detail of the book incorporated into the performance so you really do feel as if the book has come to life before your very eyes. Waterside is a really intimate venue, which allows you to really absorb yourself in a performance – the compact stage focuses your attention. The performance of Mike Aherne as Father Christmas was spot on, aided and abetted by the incredible puppetry skills of Richard Booth – who made it so easy to watch those puppets and believe they were real and yet it was equally as fascinating to watch him handling them – I flipped between the two! An unexpected highlight for us was musician Katy Sobey who really added another layer of magic to the story telling – sitting in full view, and adding every possible sound effect to the performance with incredible skill and precision. Her performance was captivating – from the vast array of instruments she played, to the clever sound effects made with her voice, and all sorts of objects – she was an absolute joy.
Father Christmas runs for around 50 minutes with no interval making it an ideal length of first time theatre goers. Children are welcome to come to evening performances dressed in their pyjamas (and many do). And just to add to the glorious bedtime story feel, you can pre-book a milk and cookie pack for £2 each (so much better at bedtime than the usual sweets and popcorn my three tend to much during a show!)
* See what Jenny from The Brick Castle thought of the show here
*We were invited to watch Father Christmas free of charge for the purpose of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*