Bookings are open for Christmas shows and with so much choice these days for families it’s often hard to decide which will be the winners. Past performance is often a good way to narrow down the field.
On that basis, first on the list has to be the Little Angel Puppet Theatre’s production of Alice in Wonderland (www.littleangelpuppettheatre.com). Picking up on Lewis Carroll’s nonsense world the show is packed with verbal jokes, witty songs and visual tricks. Whether you make it for Christmas or not a visit to the Little Angel is hugely atmospheric at any time of the year. It has been the home of British puppetry since 1961 when it was founded by a troupe of enthusiastic puppeteers under the leadership of South African master, John Wright, in a derelict temperance hall off Cross Street in Islington. It puts on shows, their own creations as well as touring companies, using all styles of puppetry: marionette (puppets on strings); rod; table top, glove, shadow, and Japanese Bunraku. It’s a magical world and one not to be missed.
Other offerings this Christmas that look worth bagging a seat for include the Hampstead Theatre’s Beasts and Beauties (www.hampsteadtheatre.com) dramatised by Melly Still (who directed a gem of a production of Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith’s couple of years ago) and Tim Supple. Otherwise the National Theatre always tends to put on a good production. This year the team that directed last year’s winner, the Cat in the Hat are back with Beauty and the Beast (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk) so it should be excellent.
For some, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the booing and hissing, double entendre’s and full on audience participation of the traditional pantomime. The best are usually at either Theatre Royal Stratford East (http://www.stratfordeast.com) whose Little Red Riding Hood starts on 4th December or the Hackney Empire (http://www.hackneyempire.co.uk). They are showing another old favourite: Jack and the Beanstalk complete with a singing harp, a golden hen, a giant of all giants and Buttercup, the break dancing cow. Can’t wait…..