Theatre review by Julia Pattison: The Elves and the Shoemakers at York Theatre Royal

The shoemaker was portrayed wonderfully by Niall Costigan.
The shoemaker was portrayed wonderfully by Niall Costigan.

Play: The Elves and the Shoemakers

Venue: The Studio, York Theatre Royal

Dates: Until January 5th, 2019.

Review by: Julia Pattison

This year I had a very special guest accompanying me to the press performance of Mike Kenny’s adaptation of the Grimm’s classic The Elves and the Shoemakers – my young grandson Bramwell.

I was stepping into his shoes to see if he’d love this story as much as I did as a child.

The answer was in his wide-eyed attention throughout this engaging adaptation, so sensitively directed by Juliet Forster.

As an adult I was particularly moved by the warm and loving relationship between the elderly and poor husband and wife shoemakers (portrayed wonderfully by Niall Costigan and Peyvand Sadeghian) and Bramwell was enchanted by the sheer magic of it all, particularly when the snow-dusted Shoemakers’ shop opened up to reveal the workshop and eventually the antics of the delightfully mischievous elf puppets.

As a young child he could instantly identify with their hide and seek games, the arguing, the larking about, and general playfulness; the shrieks of laughter from many youngsters in the audience was a joy to hear.

The puppetry was superb, and you were soon drawn into this world of magic, where once the larking about ended, revealed the big hearts and stunning shoe–making skills of the elves.

All the ingredients were there to create the quality children’s theatre we’ve come to expect at York Theatre Royal, from Hannah Sibai’s stunning set and Simon Bedwell’s atmospheric lighting, to Ivan Stott’s wonderfully catchy songs – all delightfully delivered by the two actors who had their audience in the palm of their hands from start to finish.

A storyline that never preached, yet melted hearts with its message of how much better the world would be if we cared for each other more.

A feel-good ending that left you floating on air. Magic!