Barry McCarthy’s take on Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas is a homely, flesh and blood old chap who snores, feels cold, goes to the loo, grumbles, enjoys a good meal, hates the cold and longs for summer. And yet he has a job to do, and it’s Christmas Eve. McCarthy puts on his red gear, assembles his reindeer (a theatrical tour de force puppeted in two formats by David Emmings who also puppets Cat and Dog and acts as scene shifter) and sets off over the chimney pots, although he hates the narrow ones.
Barry McCarthy (Father Christmas) in Father Christmas at the Lyric Hammersmith, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
Emmings brings the animals enchantingly to life but the real stars of this show are musician Kate Adams and Zoe Squire’s ingenious sets. Adams sits on a stage right balcony. She provides music on a range of instruments including horn, trumpet, violin, ukulele and percussion. She also provides live sound effects including radio voices - all done beautifully. Squire’s set is a masterpiece of flaps and doors including drop down indicators - Empire State Building, Leaning Tower and so on when Father Christmas sets off on his celestial world tour to deliver presents.
It’s a delightful take on a very popular story and a fine example of how, with imagination and flair, you can create excellent theatre from a very simple narrative.