Blue Elephant Theatre – until 17 December 2019
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
The Blue Elephant Theatre’s extensive experience working with children is obvious in this production, as this is exactly the sort of story a child would make up, but with an adult polish and professionalism.
Elliot the Elf is a nervous but committed elf – his job is to keep the Letter Machine working so that Santa can give every child what they want. On the day that Ruby the reindeer and her friend Teddy sneak in to see it, the Machine breaks because of a terrible storm. The only hope for saving Christmas is finding another crystal for the Machine, but the crystals are in a deep dark cave at the end of a dangerous trek, and the three new friends will have to go on the quest with no help.
Niamh de Valera has written two joyful characters – Elliot the uptight, perfectionist elf and Ruby the reckless reindeer discover their similarities and that they share the same fears, while Teddy represents everyone who is different. Teddy can’t speak and needs to be carried so Elliot is convinced that he will get in the way, much to the young audience’s disgust. Elliot’s realisation that Teddy is vital to their quest and a good friend is a warm and loving message of inclusion that doesn’t preach to the children watching, alongside his and Ruby’s finding out more about themselves and giving scary and risky things a try. Santiago Del Fosco is a hoot as Elliot –managing to be quiet and measured even whilst performing acrobatic physical comedy. Amelia Parillon as Ruby is a bundle of energy, and the two spark off each other brilliantly, capturing the hearts of the audience. Special mention must go to Campbell the Bear in his theatrical debut as Teddy. With little in the way of set, this show depends on the actors’ portrayals, and the children around me were completely rapt, holding their breath as the two teetered on the “edge” of a cliff, and getting every child in the audience on stage to help the trio reach the cave was a superb embodiment of the show’s message.
Sweet and deceptively simple, The Christmas Quest is a fantastic festive treat for the whole family.