You know that sinking feeling leading up to Christmas? When the adverts start to appear on the television, your purse strings tighten and you realise that yet another year is almost over. Well, ‘The Night Before Christmas’, the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Christmas production, is eager to throw the glittery childhood glee back into the festivities.
Carol doesn’t like Christmas and is dismayed when an elf falls down her chimney and throws her quiet Christmas Eve into disarray. What follows is a madcap dash to return the elf to the North Pole, a journey in which Carol learns to love the bumbling creature and finds her Christmas spirit.
Be warned, this isn’t a pantomime with knowing jokes and puns that go over the young ones’ heads. The target audience is very much younger children and even your eight-year-olds might be squirming in their seats. For the little ones, there’s plenty of visual humour and audience interaction, with Carol and the elf chasing one another through the audience, but the surprise is that this Christmas tale should hit the spot with the adults in the audience too.
There’s an innocence to the production that’s impossible to dislike, aided by a clever comical device in the language barrier between Carol’s prim English and the elf’s nonsensical babble, with James Barrett’s elf literally falling over himself to please his no-nonsense new friend. By the time Carol and Elf are playing a brass band of candy canes, adult audience members will be struggling to suppress a smile.
There’s something wonderfully old-fashioned about ‘The Night Before Christmas’ that gives it a timeless Christmas feel. With strong acting, nostalgic music choices and clever use of a doll’s-house-like set, this is a truly magical production that will please the parents as much as the little ones.
‘The Night Before Christmas’ runs at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 2nd January 2016.