Sunday, December 22, 2013

Oscar Wilde produced a collection of short stories in a volume titled The Happy Prince and Other Tales, ostensibly for children but they continue to tingle my spine so I guess they work pretty well for adults too.

Wee Stories have seized on one of these stories, The Selfish Giant, and turned it into a Christmas tale for children. Which made it onto my (grown up) Christmas theatre hitlist.

I tried my absolute best to borrow some over 5s to accompany me but the show's popularity conspired against me as I could only purchase lone tickets for all the times we could have attended as a (dysfunctional) "family". Irritating but I'm very happy for Wee Stories that their wee story is selling as well as it roundly deserves.

This is a proper children's Christmas show. Lots of audience participation. Yesterday's audience was replete with children. (Lots of "Is that the giant? Is that the giant, mummy?" pre-curtain-up. And my favourite: "did they make that?........Mummy! Did they make it? Because it's quite good.") And as ever, with child audience participation, any errant reactions add only to the cuteness. One precocious child persisted with his "no's!" when expected to say yes. But the precocious one saw straight through the slight duplicitousness of the invitation and gave the answer that really, we grown people all suspected.

The narrator, Iain Johnstone, does a cracking job. Absolutely perfect diction, I couldn't help but notice. Which isn't to say that his delivery wasn't entirely on the money. I hope I won't cause any offence or break any unprepared hearts when I say he'd make a marvellous grandfather. Imagine the story telling.

The accompanying music is delightful. I particularly liked the creaking sound effects. They disconcerted me just enough to wonder if the theatre was about to fall down.

And the dancing - and the magic daffodils - is and are lovely. Jack Frost stole my show. The audience participation with the (spoiler alert!) re-arrival of Spring came a close second.

The original story features children, rather than animals, being excluded from the garden. And in actuality, I suspect I would have uncontrollably sobbed, being a soft hearted fool, if the boy that the giant reluctantly grudgingly helped into the tree, had featured. And if you play the story out to its original conclusion, well, it veers suddenly into godly territory and I can quite see why Wee Stories might steer away from this. For an audience of over 5s and Christmas-wearied parents, I suspect the tactful revision is far more palatable.

So thank you, Wee Stories. White Christmas was glitz and glamour and spangles. The Selfish Giant is surreptitious gently sparkling Christmas charm with a healthy dollop of childish wonder. Just as it should be. 


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