REVIEW: The Christmas Cuckoo's Cooking at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven

Western Telegraph: GOODIES: The Tooth Fairy, Shine the mouse and Ingrid the Shepherdess embark on an adventure to save the Cuckoo GOODIES: The Tooth Fairy, Shine the mouse and Ingrid the Shepherdess embark on an adventure to save the Cuckoo

The Christmas Cuckoo’s Cooking
Torch Theatre Company
Torch Theatre, Milford Haven

THERE may only be days to go now, but if you are still to enter the Christmas spirit, then a trip to the Torch Theatre will certainly put you in the mood.

This year’s festive offering is an enchanting and magical tale of adventure in an attic on Christmas Eve, and is just perfect for young eyes and imaginations.

The Torch alternates between traditional pantomimes and Christmas shows, and this year’s production, The Christmas Cuckoo’s Cooking, has once again been written by artistic director Peter Doran who clearly knows a thing or two about yuletide ingredients.

Once you find out the story the title makes perfect sense and everything is in place for a rip roaring child-orientated show from plenty of laughs and action to catchy songs, magical on and off stage trickery and of course bucketfuls of audience interaction to keep the little people satisfied.

Our heroes are cuckoo clock residents the Toy Soldier and Ingrid the shepherdess, who embark on an adventure to save the Cuckoo from being roasted at the hands of baddie woodworm Mrs Cuprinol and her hen-pecked husband Walter.

The Toy Soldier (Edward Harrison) and Ingrid (Charlotte Powell) make just perfectly proper goodies and immediately have their young audience under their spell with plenty of audience interaction from the off.

And as if the delightful duo were not enough, they are soon joined by their fantastically fun friends, a mouse called Shine (Molly Weaver) and the Tooth Fairy (Emma Hirons). This is a show where it’s impossible to have favourites with so much going for each of the characters and performances, but one-eyed scaredy mouse Shine was a hit with the kids in particular.

Where there are goodies there must of course be baddie, and the dastardly Mrs Cuprinol (Carri Munn) is as good as any festive baddie you’ll find – especially given the fact she and wimpy woodworm hubby Walter do actually begin to roast the cuckoo. But, it’s Christmas!

Amusingly however, Mrs Cuprinol and especially her other half Walter (Stephen Hickman), with his hilarious moves and downtrodden charm, wormed their way into the affections of the audience which along the way somehow ended up helping both the baddies and the goodies in their quests.

The costumes are all just perfect, from the Pink Lady inspired Tooth Fairy (listen out for the Grease-esque ditty too) to the brilliant Mr Cuprinol – if you haven’t seen a fatsuit woodworm doing the caterpillar you’re really missing out.

A real star of the show is the stage design which is a brilliant creation including a cuckoo clock, a giant can of Brasso and the most gorgeous ‘giant’ teddy bear that every home should have. Throw in some clever staging tricks along the way and you have all the magic you need for an entertaining Christmas show.

While clearly aimed at a young audience, with toilet humour and child-friendly interaction, there is still enough to satisfy adults with references that go above younger heads, the chance to play name that musical/ genre and even just the entertainment to be had watching the joy of children around you as they enthusiastically shout at the stage or join in the actions.

The only downside, as is often the case with any panto style show, is that everything is resolved at hyper-speed in the end. That and the fact I’m still singing the catchy four bar Cuckoo, Cuckoo reprise. But it wouldn’t be Christmas without an ‘irritating’ tune or two buzzing around your head now would it.

The Christmas Cuckoo’s Cooking, a Torch Theatre Company Production runs at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, until December 31, 2011. Public performances begin Thursday December 22. For ticket information call 01646 695267 or visit the website www.torchtheatre.co.uk

THE CHRISTMAS CUCKOO’S COOKING

  • Written and directed by Peter Doran
  • Composed by James Williams
  • Musical direction by Jonathan William
  • Choreography by Molly Weaver
  • Designed by Sean Crowley
  • Lighting designed by Dave Roxburgh

Production manager Patrick Beegan; stage manager Claire Porter; Assistant stage manager Peter Anderson; technical manager Andrew Sturley; assistant technical manager Jerome Davies; technical assistant Lloyd Grayshon; set construction Patrick Beegan and Jamie Fitzgerald; costume maker/wardrobe supervisor Louise Edmunds; assistant costume makers Megan Watkins and Angharad Spencer; scenic artists Reva Callen and Tessa Sillars-Powell.

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