Yesterday we were invited to watch The Pixie and The Pudding, at North London’s best kept Secret, The Little Angel Theatre tucked away behind Islington’s Upper Street.
As we sat down in the studio theatre’s intimate setting, a mere four short rows of foam block seating, I prepared myself for an hour of what promised to be wholesome festive frivolity aimed at small ones. A farmyard tale based on Scandinavian folklore with cows and pigs and chickens – oh and Pixies thrown in for good measure. How Darling!
At least thats probably the show my children saw. But The Pixie and The Pudding is not your average Christmas show. Performed by a cast of two, interchanging between human characters and puppeteers, The Pixie and the Pudding transcends the tinsel and teeth of many of the other festive family shows on offer. Beyond the twee farmyard setting and deceptively simplistic storyline, you will find undertones of superstition and black magic, coercion and blackmail as well as social themes of country vs city. Understated in its ‘Festiveness’ it is a show to be enjoyed well into the New Year – luckily it runs until 29th January!
The show starts with a scene of nostalgic rural England. An ageing farmer(Samuel Dutton) performs his daily tasks, feeding pigs, milking the cow, collecting the eggs. But there is one duty which the farmer abides with the upmost reverence – the baking of a Pudding for the Pixies on Christmas eve. A yearly tradition which results in the blessing of his farm for the year ahead.
And so with a haze of glitter ball light and jingle bells we meet the shows headliner. I have come to expect no less than spectacular puppetry by LAT but the Pixie is on quite another level. Together with my children I was completely taken in by the Pixie – puppeteered with detailed sequential movements of its spine and limbs – so convincing even with its human manipulators in full view. The children simply adored the spritely pixie’s squeals as he tucked into the bowling ball Christmas pudding.
The Pixies are fed and all is well on the farm. A year of prosperous seasons ensue sounded by Barb Jungr’s catchy score.
That is until the farmer packs it all in and hands over to a younger city dweller hoping to turn his hand at country life. Along comes the new owners, the young farmer (Samuel Dutton once more) and his reluctant daughter Charlie (Jazmine Wilkinson) on Christmas eve (what a day to move house?). With misplaced confidence the new farmer fails to heed the advice of the old farmer and ridicules his sentimentalities and traditions. He fails to learn the names of the animals, makes the sheepdog sleep outside and crucially doesn’t make a pudding for the pixies (Townies eh?!).
With the pixies ruffled, a year of hardship unfolds, the new farmer is impoverished as the farm dwindles. That is until Charlie remembers the advice written in a mysterious note by the old farmer and sets to turn their fortunes around.
Essentially a tale of blackmail, although my children would tell you ‘magic’, there is something of the nordic noir about this story and LAT do not attempt to fully sugar coat this. The music is at times forboding and sad especially when narrating the year of hardships. The idea of blighted harvests and cursed fortunes feels almost biblical. But then I guess this is a season synonymous with passive threats ‘be sure not to end up on the naughty list’ ‘The Elf(on the Shelf) is watching you!’
Who is it for?
Of course much of this goes over the heads of its younger audiences and judging from the mesmerised smiles of the Children, this show is a clear winner. Sing-a-long songs are aplenty and the characters likeable. The animal puppets even more so! The show is riddled with kiddie comedy, generally centred around the disgruntled animals and mischievious Pixie. An afternoon well spent if you are looking for a show to delight your little ones along with a side of adult food for thought. This show is aimed at 4-11 year olds although younger children are welcomed. I would suggest the hour long running time may prove difficult for young children under 4yrs.
The Pixie and the Pudding runs until 29th January at Little Angel Studios, Islington. Book here
Written by Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane
Directed by Samantha Lane
Original Music and lyrics by Barb Jungr
Set and costume design by Mila Sanders
Puppets designed and made by Lyndie Wright
Lighting design by Sherry Coenen
Performed by Samuel Dutton and Jazmine Wilkinson
I would love to hear your thoughts on ‘The Pixie and The Pudding’. Do leave me a comment below.