Review: Crumble's Search for Christmas at West Yorkshire Playhouse

One of the hardest age ranges for any performer to entertain is the two to six year olds. At one end of the spectrum they are barely out of nappies whilst at the other they have been at school long enough to know that there's more to Christmas than crackers and turkey. And there, as Shakespeare would say, is the rub. The age gap might as well be the Grand Canyon, almost impossible to bridge.

FESTIVE FUN: Crumbles Search for Christmas, the West Yorkshire Playhouses offering for younger theatre goers.
FESTIVE FUN: Crumbles Search for Christmas, the West Yorkshire Playhouses offering for younger theatre goers.

Crumble’s Search for Christmas is the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s 2017 offering for those still too young for the soon to be aired The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, but old enough to want more than a Kinder egg. Crumble is a woodland creature who, along with Boo and Elderberry, should be getting ready to bed down in his cosy burrow for the big winter hibernation. But he’s curious, what is this thing called Christmas and where can he find it?

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And so, inspired by a Christmas card verse, he sets off in pursuit of his dreams and the Festive Season, as the last leaf of Autumn falls to the ground. It is a gentle affair with beautiful staging, a rich lighting plot and magical creatures including a squirrel, owls and Wendy the reindeer. However, a lack of songs and audience interaction, so familiar in many of the region’s pantomimes, makes this a hard sell, particularly to restless children who need to be metaphorically grabbed by the throat.

It is a lovely, sweet offering but children between four and six will certainly get most from it. Lucy Bairstow, Riana Duce and Emily Goldie, the multi-talented protagonists are great, however, take the terrible twos along and I can guarantee an audience made up of youngsters keen to outdo each other in the screaming sweepstakes.

To December 30.