It’s been a complex day. It started with taking the long way round to church because of engineering works and ended with Eva spilling her drink all over the tube and very nearly losing her beloved hat. In the middle, there was a fair amount of chaos as we tried to work out which family member was supposed to be in which post-church meeting and whether everyone had eaten something that could be classed as lunch. But there was also an enjoyable hour spent at Little Angel watching their Christmas show – The Pixie and the Pudding.
I think we saw a version of this show a few years back but I haven’t read that previous review so as to try and keep my thoughts straight. After such a chaotic afternoon, I’m amazed that I have any thoughts at all but here they are:
First off, it’s a Christmas show but it’s light-touch Christmas. It starts on Christmas Eve and ends on Christmas Day but two years pass in between. It’s a story about believing in magic, doing something for others and giving pigs tummy tickles so all good festive themes. I must admit to feeling a little guilty about the last one as the lunch substitute I’d grabbed on the way to the theatre was a very good and chunky sausage roll from Suprette. Sorry Bella.
The basic plot is that an old farmer leaves a Christmas pudding on the shelf every year for a magical pixie who then grants the farm good luck for the year – milk flowing freely, eggs in abundance and award-winning vegetables. A year into the play, the old farmer retires and passes the farm to a new farmer who’s moved from the city and doesn’t believe in pixies. You can guess what happens next. Ah, the arrogance of youth. The new farmer brings with him a teenage daughter who eventually turns things round and yes, gives Bella those tummy tickles.
The whole show is performed by two actors (Sam Dutton and Jazmine Wilkinson) who also control all the puppet animals. As well as the pig, there is a cow, a chicken, a rooster and an adorable sheepdog called Molly. Eva loved Molly and was, of course, distraught when Molly was made to live outside under the new regime. Eva is also in a bit of a know-it-all phase and loudly corrected a young child when he pointed at the rooster and said “hen!”. I apologise to everyone present. She also questioned whether female cows have horns but I googled and yes, they sometimes do. The farmyard setting is a crowd pleaser for young kids because all toddlers love barnyard animals, don’t they? And most are not as pedantic as my child. There were a few notable vocalisations from the crowd though, especially when the daughter revealed the Christmas pudding – a child in the front row cried out “It’s beautiful!” and they were not wrong.
What was also beautiful was the use of lighting to give different feels to the different seasons. I particularly liked the sunrise effect on the backdrop as the rooster was crowing. And Eva liked the discoball effect every time the pixie appeared. The use of music was also effective, with the positive “Summer on the farm” songs in the first half giving way to a more melancholy version as the farm declined and the new farmer accepted that his plan had been a failure. There are a lot of songs throughout the whole show, which were largely sung acapella by the two performers. They really did work hard.
The show is advertised as being for ages 4-11 but, as you can probably tell, there were some younger children there who I think enjoyed it. It’s an hour long so a few of the very littlies got restless but I think that was mostly because they wanted to be up on the stage cuddling the animals. Mostly though, they paid rapt attention. I think the age recommendation is about right but it seemed to go down well with everyone from newborn next to us up to the near-secondary-aged one I brought with me.
So nothing too complicated or glitzy but a charming little story with the kind of magic that should carry the show into January. Definitely worth a visit to ward off the rainy-day blues.
Disclaimer: I received free press tickets in exchange for a review but all opinions remain honest and my own.
“The Pixie and the Pudding” runs from18 November 2022 – 29 January 2023. For tickets and more information, click here.