Dear Father Christmas – 23/12/15

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After some unseasonable warmth and some depressing drizzle,  the weather has finally rallied and produced the kinda cold blue skies that you want just before Christmas. Well,  not that cold.  But blue! Perfect for offsetting the Oxford St Christmas lights:

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We were in Soho to see a rather magical Christmas play at Soho Theatre but more on that later.  First,  a wander down Carnaby Street where there were, as ever,  wonders to behold.  Like these giant chocolate coins in the window of Liberty:

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And London’s campest Christmas decorations:

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Purple and sparkly! Which meant,  naturally, that Eva and I both loved them. Reuben was more interested in the giant plug of Ganton Street:

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All this was very sparkly window dressing to the main event – the morning show of “Dear Father Christmas“, an interactive Christmas play for 3-6 year olds. I have a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old so it seemed the perfect audience to try the show out on. It’s staged in the intimate space of Soho Upstairs and the kids sit on cushions on the floor:

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As a wall of clocks showed the time all over the world, ticking towards 10:30 in Soho, an elf skipped around the room, chatting to the children and finding out what they wanted for Christmas. Another actor slumbered on the desk, despite Roo’s best efforts to wake him. We were in Santa’s postroom at the North Pole and Ella the Elf was our host for the next hour or so.

Now, my kids have certain expectations of theatre shows and one of the most important is audience participation. Luckily there was plenty of that. Reuben was the first to be called up to help, deftly extracting an advent calendar from under the hand of the sleeping man (Mr Tick-Tock, the clock-stopper). There was shouting, there was singing, there even was a ukelele as Ella and Mr Tick-Tock recruited the children to be elves and help to save Christmas. Us adults at the back had to be giants.

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The story was simple – Santa was depressed because his polar bear friend had gone missing and the child-elves had to help any way they could. They started by sorting a pile of letters by colour into giant boxes around the room. Roo said that was his favourite bit and he was very fast at it. That was true – he was fast, but he may have grazed a few toddlers on his way. If that was your toddler, I do apologise.

Eva said she had two favourite bits – when Reuben went up to get the advent calendar and when the polar bear came back. Because yes, spoilers ahoy, the polar bear came back and there was a happy ending. I only tell you this because 45 minutes in, Eva was asking to go home because she was sad. Santa was unhappy, the elf was unhappy and Eva had what we might term “empathy overload”. As soon as the polar bear turned up though, all was fine with the world again.

Over-identifying aside, it was a jolly lovely show and a brilliant Christmas treat for my kids. It was pacey so they never got bored, the actors interacted well with the audience and the kids really felt involved. Reuben likes to feel involved. The songs were pretty, the changes of costume impressive and there was no chance to get restless – when they weren’t spotting polar bears, they were making paperchains or doing the SohoHoHoHoHoedown. The show is on for a limited period – it finishes on 2nd Jan – so if you’re in London over Christmas, I’d recommend getting down to Soho and catching a little of the North Pole magic.

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Incidentally, Soho was nice and peaceful today, in a weird kind of pre-Christmas lull. We wandered about a bit afterwards and found this lovely owl-themed display in Accessorize, on the corner of Oxford Street and Soho Street:

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If this sounds all far too idyllic then I’ll let you believe that it was. You don’t need to know about the disappointing visit to the shoe shop or the place Reuben insisted on going for lunch. But you do need to know that the Central Line is finally stopping at Tottenham Court Road again and we got to try out the new entrance:

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This is a new mosaic, but fear not – the Eduardo Paolozzi ones are still down there on the way to the platforms. Roo, as ever, was overwhelmed with excitement:

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I’ll leave it there, except to say a Very Merry Christmas to you all. See you in 2016!

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