The Fed-Up Christmas Fairy

January 5, 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆   Likeable

Saughtonhall United Reformed Church: Wed 4 – Sat 7 Jan 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Fed-Up Christmas Fairy, Saughtonhall’s post-Christmas entertainment, is a short and unassuming piece that carries considerable charm.

There is no reason why festive entertainments should not take place in January. Pantomimes used to go on much longer into the year, and of course this year’s ‘King’s’ production at the Festival Theatre has more performances after the New Year than before.

The Fed Up Christmas Fairy…

Strictly speaking, however, this story of a disgruntled Christmas tree fairy seeking diversions is not a pantomime. Billed as a ‘panto/family play/ nativity’, it certainly has elements of all of those genres.

If the mixture never completely gels, it is certainly a well-meaning and involving production for all ages, complete with undemanding audience participation.

Fun is had at the expense of modern Christmas traditions, before we are gently reminded what it was all about in the first place. The joins between the various sections could be smoother and the overtly religious elements, while hardly unexpected, do not necessarily sit comfortably with what has preceded them.

This section is, however, deftly handled by Amanda Baker, the writer and director of the piece, who has fashioned an appealing entertainment.

At well under an hour, it certainly does not outstay its welcome. This, coupled with the early start, means that the evening performances are done and dusted by 7.30 – something that other productions catering for younger audiences could learn from.

Humour

The humour is, however, accessible to all ages. A trio of elves, played by Saughtonhall stalwarts John Webster, Murray Petrie and Judith Petrie, display a rapport with each other and the audience that is comforting and makes for frequent laughter.

The central character of the fairy is given a prickly yet sympathetic air by Eleanor Watson. Her performance is all the more praiseworthy as she was forced to step into the role at extremely short notice in the week of performance.

There is occasionally a somewhat haphazard feel to proceedings, but the end result always remains coherent, something that is helped greatly by the imposing (verging on the self-important) narrator, played with authority by Morag Simpson.

Technically, the production is impressive, with good use made of screens in the singalongs.

It is something of a shock initially to see the Saughtonhall auditorium laid out in conventional rows of seats; the absence of an interval means the customary half-time tea, biscuit and chat cannot take place and something of the venue’s USP is missing as a result.

There is no doubt, however, the customary warm welcome is still very much in place, and this is certainly carried over into a performance of a piece, whose warm, gently insistent tone is its greatest strength.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Saughtonhall United Reformed Church, 85-87 Saughtonhall Drive, EH12 5TR
Wednesday 4 – Saturday 7 January 2023
Wed, Thurs, Sat at 6.30 pm; Matinees Wed, Fri, Sat at 2.30 pm
Tickets and details at www.saughtonhall.com

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