Now this is a matter of personal taste, but I find that the most engaging Christmas shows have the balance right between recognisble elements of ‘real life’ and the ‘magic’ of the season. In Fran and the Littlest Reindeer, both of these factors are very much present.
Written by Tilly Lunken, and directed by Victorine Pontillon and Tilly Lunken, Fran and the Littlest Reindeer is set in in household in early December. Writing her annual letter to Father Christmas, Fran (Francesca Burgoyne) wishes her mother could “come back” and for her father to be “happy”. Whether this is interpreted that the mother passed away or left home as a result of divorce, either way it works.
Fran concludes that it’s impossible for even Father Christmas to grant her wish and drops her first letter on the floor. However, her father Rennie (David Pitt) posts it anyway and ‘somebody’ from the North Pole hears her request…
The play is relatively short, but packs a lot into its running time. The principal actors ground the play, subtly alluding to Christmas being the time of year loved ones are missed the most and that going through the motions can be the hardest thing to do. But this versimilitude only makes the ‘magic’ more special when it occurs…
As you would expect, there is a ‘reindeer’ who has an indelible presence in the show, plus songs and additional music by Jackson Pentland and Hedley Knights. However, what my ‘five-year-old self’ really responded to was the shadow puppetry, which brought back many happy memories as a kid. Such a straightforward technique, but evokes the imagination in ways that other methods seldom match.
All-in-all, Fran and the Littlest Reindeer is a delightful way to pass the time and be reminded of one’s inner child.
© Michael Davis 2017
Fran and the Littlest Reindeer runs at the Bread & Roses Theatre on: Friday 15th December at 5pm; Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th December at 1.30pm & 3.30pm at The Bread & Roses Theatre, 68 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ London
Tickets £7 (£5 conc); Family Ticket (admits a group of 4) £20
The show also runs at Rosemary Branch Theatre on: Tuesday 19th & Wednesday 20th Decemberat 1.30pm & 3.30pm at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, 2 Shepperton Road, N1 3DT London