Last Christmas this venue played host to a rather flat kid’s show about Father Christmas. This year’s effort is more successful, assured and thought out, because while it is lifted from a well-known TV franchise there is heart and imagination here.
And that is what Charley Bear is about. First introduced as an ordinary-sized bear operated by Emily Thomas and David Marken’s hands, it is through the power of his - and the audience’s - imagination that he becomes adult-sized.
This works and we are taken on an adventure in which he tries to assemble all the right things for an ideal Yuletide, leading up to a not entirely unexpected visit from Santa himself. The big man is played by Marken, though it would be an idea if this slim actor had some padding - my four-year-old was most perturbed to see that Santa had lost so much weight.
The production values are simple and good - all we need are Charley’s box and a few toys when our imagination can take us to all the places Charley visits. Thomas and Marken are engaging and both possess good singing voices. And while I wouldn’t take a child older than five (the theatre says it is suitable for those aged up to seven) this is nourishing fare - made all the better for encouraging the kids to get up and move at any opportunity.