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  • Writer's pictureRosie Sharman-Ward


🎭 Father Christmas

📍 The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Thursday 30th November 2023



Utterly enchanting, Father Christmas captures author Raymond Briggs' much treasured original story perfectly whilst introducing witty references to make it relatable for today’s children. Lovable Father Christmas is, of course, portrayed as a portly, slightly grumpy senior citizen who loves his home comforts and is not overly keen on turning out in the winter weather, leaving his pets behind.

A pyjama clad Nathan Masterson, as the man himself, soon has his younger audience laughing with him whilst the adults sigh with empathy at his dreams of sunny holidays. Masterson is just wonderful, becoming the embodiment of Briggs' Father Christmas in what is in essence a monologue with delightful puppets, yes there are puppets - hooray! These are an endearing and very funny part of the show. Amber-Rose Perry truly excels not only as the puppeteer but in colluding with the audience in little tricks and giggles which brilliantly disguise scene changes.

Designed by Zoe Squire, the set is stunning. One of the largest and most complex I have seen grace The Drum stage, it entrances the audience from the moment we walk in, so beautiful. That’s Christmas right here! Old fashioned, familiar, warm and full of twinkles. The epitome of childhood expectation. The stage is literally set and brilliantly concealed in it is everything needed to tell the tale in the most ingenious way possible, it might even be magic...

Add to this George Ogilvie’s gentle, atmospheric lighting along with inspired, often hilarious sound effects and Christmas is good to go. Multi-talented and amazingly dextrous, the music and sound effects are produced by Stacey Ghent who is a huge part of the show in her little “room” above the set. We watch in awe as she flips between instruments and sounds, sometimes one in each hand. Even the pre-show “switch your phone off” announcement is amusing!

Today’s audience comprises approximately 60% young children made up of school parties and some young families. I glance around to see their reactions. Spellbound, they watch with round eyes and lots of laughter, completely captivated. I see huge smiles, pointing hands, little jumps of excitement and hear gasps of amazement. The universal audible “Wow!” when the incredible sleigh appears must warm Director Emma Earle’s heart as much as it did mine.

Watching the sheer joy on the children’s faces makes the show so special and I feel a little sad I am not accompanied by the smaller members of my own family.

Every part of this charming show is made with care and respect for the original story whilst using theatre trickery and fabulous characters to keep it relevant. There is just the right balance of humour and wonder to keep us all engaged and feel part of the show. The creative ideas just keep coming allowing the timeless tale to come alive making it a proper warm up for our own Christmas. The fact that I am just off to book tickets to take my grandchildren may be the most positive review I can give a show. I need to hurry as many performances are nearly sold out already!

Father Christmas is a Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and Pins and Needles production and runs at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Sunday 31st December. It is a wonderful treat for the family however tickets are selling fast and there is already limited availability for some performances. Head to soon to avoid disappointment.

Rosie Sharman-Ward

All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.

My ticket for this performance of Father Christmas was gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to watch the show on behalf of Pink Prince Theatre in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the content of my review or the star rating given.

The Theatre Royal Plymouth is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the country. Their mission is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue offers three performance spaces of various sizes, the largest being The Lyric which accommodates the big touring productions. The Drum and The Lab are smaller, intimate spaces and often offer pioneering productions.


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