Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Christmas production this year is a tale that many of us may be unfamiliar with. Written by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum in 1902, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is the origin story for Father Christmas that is filled with magic and delight.
Adapted by award-winning poet and playwright Hannah Lavery, this tale shuns the North Pole for an enchanted forest, making it a perfect fit for Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s picturesque backdrop.
The show, which is available to watch both in person (outdoors) and online, opens on Christmas Eve with a young girl trying her hardest to catch Santa as he delivers his presents. When Alice, played by the talented Rosa Lavery, accidentally traps a fairy instead, she puts her time with this fascinating creature to good use by asking questions about the history of Santa Claus. As the fairy talks Alice through Santa’s past, she takes us back in time and into the bewitching Forest of Burzee. There, amongst Wood Nymphs, Knooks, and Ryls, a baby named Claus is discovered.
I opted to watch The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus online and while the absence of the intimacy that comes with live theatre was evident, being able to watch the show on the sofa feels like a real treat. Even in an online format, the moment the performance starts, one cannot help but become fully immersed in this beautiful tale regardless of age.
Marc Small does a fantastic job of directing this professional and slick production. The small, tight knit cast deliver stand-out performances, including Michael Cooke as Claus, Lisa Livingstone as Necille, and Still Game’s Jane McCarry as the mesmerising and mighty Great Ack. The costumes, made by Iona Eterman and Natalie Fern, also bring some additional glamour and sparkle to the show that provide the production with an etherical Midsummer Night’s Dream-esque feel.
Watching this wonder-filled story of Santa unfold is a great pleasure for audiences both young and old. Spellbinding and charming in equal measures, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus feels both original and new. If you’re looking for a show that will help you rediscover the magic of Christmas – this is the one.