‘Misshapen elf steals show!’ Thus might well read the headline for the Lyric’s Christmas musical, in which Christina Nelson’s mutely glowering servant to Jane Milligan’s uber-glamorous Witch deservedly grabs the spotlight. Without exactly losing the plot, the Grimm brothers’ dark fairytale makes but fleeting appearances in Paul Boyd’s left-of-field revisioning.
Narrator and guide is Christopher Finn’s engaging feathered friend Gregory Peck, while two young, local musical theatre performers - Ciara Louise Baxter and Patrick Corey - make an earnest pairing as the central characters. The children have been abandoned by their dysfunctional parents - unemployed Hertz (the incomparable Tommy Wallace) and gun-toting Avis (Nelson again) - whom poverty and rural isolation have clearly rendered insane.
Things begin promisingly as Conleth White’s frosty lighting goes up on David Craig’s abstract set, composed of torn pages of script, on to which are projected enchanting shadows and silhouettes. This cautionary tale of misplaced wishes unfolds through surreally random encounters with nutty birds Florence Nightingale and Francis Drake, a sinister Spirit of the Forest and a pompadoured Elvis-impersonator frog.
Boyd’s songwriting flair may not be firing at its highest level, but the show goes out on a high with a big, brash, catchy remix.