- The Stage - https://www.thestage.co.uk -

The Elves and the Shoemaker review at Avenue Theatre, Ipswich – ‘delightful and uplifting’

Scene from The Elves and the Shoemaker at Avenue Theatre, Ipswich

Love is all around in Joanna Carrick’s delightful The Elves and the Shoemaker. It’s just sometimes, as Elvira the shoe maker discovers, we can’t see it for looking. Frank the baker clearly is in love with Elvira. But Elvira is, inexplicably, crazy about Englebert, who though he may be rich, is no Prince Charming.

This festive three-hander for Red Rose Chain gives great opportunities to the cast who work tightly together as an ensemble. Darren Latham camps it up hilariously as Esme, Englebert’s hideous mother, and Ryan Penny is exceptionally vile as Englebert himself. As Elvira, Emma Swan creates a rounded natural character that anchors the production. As she says, with a wink: “It’s not a pantomime – it’s a Christmas play.”

The show is given a vintage feel via the set and costume designs of Carrick and David Newborn. These help create a warm nostalgic glow from the offset. The script’s humour, which often contains a very precise bite, reiterates Carrick’s hopeful message that good things can and do happen to good people and love, generosity, kindness and tolerance are not just for Christmas.

Verdict
Delightful, uplifting Christmas play for a family audience

Production

Production
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Venue
Avenue Theatre
City
Ipswich
Starts
December 7, 2017
Ends
December 31, 2017
Press night
December 8, 2017
Authors
Joanna Carrick
Composer
Joanna Carrick
Director
Joanna Carrick
Choreographer
Toni Peach
Set
Joanna Carrick and David Newborn
Stage manager
Chester Ward
Cast includes
Darren Latham, Ryan Penny, Emma Swan
Producer
Red Rose Chain
Running time
1hr 45mins