Review: Father Christmas’ Christmas List at Proteus Creation Space

Miss NHM and I were very lucky to be invited to see a performance of Father Christmas’ Christmas List at Proteus Creation Space.

I publicised this in December and it booked up very quickly so we were lucky to get tickets. However, things didn’t quite go according to plan.

Miss NHM isn’t particularly good with new places or people dressed up. I thought she would be ok as she was really good when we had Elsa at the NHM Christmas Expo and wouldn’t leave the poor girl alone!

Unfortunately, as soon as Miss NHM saw Jack Frost, she froze and then started shaking and shouting “I need a poo, I need a wee”. (The smart girl has already worked out that she can hide in the toilets, so we did about 15 trips to the loo that morning, whilst I tried to convince her she would enjoy it!).

The staff at Proteus Creation Space were SOO lovely about it all and very understanding and not at all phased. I felt awful.

It looked brilliant and I was gutted to have missed the show.

Luckily one of my friends had managed to book tickets so she very kindly agreed to do the review based on her and her little one’s experience.

Thank you very much to Abi for stepping in at the last minute. Here is her review!

Review: Father Christmas’ Christmas List

We went to see Father Christmas’ Christmas List at the Proteus Creation Centre this week.  I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I have never been to a panto and I’m not sure about all that audience participation (oh, no I’m not!) but having been to a non-panto Christmas show with my little girl in a previous year I knew she would enjoy it and figured we would all have fun.

When we turned up at Fairfields I immediately worried that I had the wrong venue as there was plenty of parking still in the Creation Space car park but when we got to reception there were other families there with tinsel in their hair, looking festive, so I was immediately relieved.  As we all gathered waiting for the show to start it became clear what a small audience there was for the show – only about 12 children and their assorted adults – which explained both the availability of parking and the speed at which the tickets sold out.

The show describes itself as “fully interactive” and this is clear at the very start when the first thing the children need to do is write their very own Christmas list ready to post to Father Christmas.  As they did this a very naughty Jack Frost made himself known to us, sprinkling snow, playing peek-a-boo and making noises from the gallery above us and slowly the show began to start around us…

The show quite literally takes the children on a journey as instead of changing scenes as is normally done in a theatre the children are instead led through to different rooms made up as sets for the show and they are fully immersed in each one. The sets themselves were beautifully done with great attention to detail, each one having plenty of the Magic of Christmas in.  .

Mary Christmas, Father Christmas’ wife, is one of the lead characters and also takes the role of narrator leading the children through the story and their first stop is her kitchen where as well as meeting several of puppets they get to help Mary Christmas make some gingerbread.  As my little ones have milk allergies I was very relieved to see that the dough they were given to roll out was in fact play dough but that didn’t stop my 9 month old trying to eat it, of course!

The children gathered round little tables and with encouragement from Mary Christmas and her bear made lots of different shaped ‘cookies’.  All the children seemed to enjoy this activity and it gave them a sense of belonging in the story while the rest of the plot unfolded round them.

The rest of the play takes part in Father Christmas’ garden which was a delight of snow and glitter and sparkling lights and my favourite thing about the play. It even had a ball pit filled with pearly snowballs which the kids loved. My little one had to be ‘encouraged’ to stop doing flying jumps into it and pay attention to the story at one point as she got a bit over excited but no one really seemed to mind.

The story focuses very much on the idea of Father Christmas’ “Naughty List”.  This is not something that we as a family use as part of our Christmas rituals so I am not sure that my little girl understood the horror that was implied of naughty children not getting any presents.  Obviously I would have preferred it if the story hadn’t presented that idea but I accept that most people do use it.  However despite the story being about a little girl who didn’t get a present despite being ‘good’ and the redemption of ‘naughty’ Jack Frost I think it would have worked without talking about Santa’s Naughty List.

All the children get to take turns and go and talk to Father Christmas about the list they wrote and he got several big hugs from the kids, including my little poppet who was delighted to meet him.

At the end each child is given a party bag containing little packets of play dough and a ‘magic’ gingerbread man like the ones made in the story.  This is great and I’m sure all the other children were delighted to have one just like in the story but this kind of thing is my worst nightmare.  Luckily I saw the gingerbread in the bag and was able to remove it before my little girl saw it as she would have been really disappointed not to be able to eat it because of her dairy allergy.

The group I was with had a broad range of ages – from mine at 9 months and to older children of 7 or so – all the children seemed to enjoy it greatly.  It was great for bringing a baby to as I didn’t need to worry about keeping him still and quiet and there was so much for him to look at and touch so he was very entertained.

And for my little girl, well she had been very excited to go to a show and Father Christmas’ Christmas List did not disappoint.  And while she was distracted from the action by the ball pool, this just added to the enjoyment from her perspective.  Her reaction at the end was to be desperate not to leave and wanting to go through and do it all again.

So overall I think it was a great family trip out for a very reasonable price and I will certainly be booking us tickets for one of their next shows.

(NHM: If you would like to see more of the team who did this show, check out Central Studio’s website and book to see Becky Kitter (AKA Mrs Christmas) in her next show all about bonkers balloon science!)

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