The Elves and the Shoemaker (5 stars)

This article is from 2007.

The Elves and the Shoemaker

The cutest puppets on the block

When it comes to classic tales, The Elves and the Shoemaker is high up on most people’s lists. Just picturing those little elves beavering away, creating tiny shoes, is enough to excite little ones, and send big ones down memory lane.

Well you don’t have to imagine the elves here, because Theatre of Widdershins has brought them all to life. Puppeteer and storyteller, Andy Lawrence spent years making costumes for the BBC, honing his craft to perfection. So before he’s even picked up a puppet or uttered a word, the set alone has you charmed.

A large, colourful wooden workbench is the focus of Lawrence’s show. Each small draw or cupboard opens to reveal a beautifully-crafted puppet or tiny reel of cotton. Then, when the whole thing lights up to reveal busy shadow puppet elves, the effect is truly magical.

It’s hard to be inventive with a tale as old as this – and in some ways, you don’t want him to be, just to tell it as is. But Lawrence manages to drop in a twist in the shape of Bunion Soleless, a polluting factory boss who moves to the town and threatens the old shoemaker’s livelihood.

Dropping in a few jokes for the grown-ups, Lawrence gets everyone on-side – as does his musician sidekick with a collection of very silly hats. Ultimately, though, nobody can steel the limelight from Lawrence’s gorgeous hand-made creations. (Kelly Apter)

Quaker Meeting House, 220 6109, until 25 Aug (not 19), 2.30pm, £7 (£5); family ticket £20.

The Elves and the Shoemaker

  • 5 stars

The story of the kindly shoemaker and his wife and the mysterious helpers who turn around their fortunes, directed by new Rep Associate Director Jemima Levick and performed by the Rep Ensemble with magic, songs and puppetry. Suitable for ages 4+.

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