REVIEW: Twinkle Bell – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews

Writer and Director: Clare McGarry

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

There’s nothing as endearing as seeing the wonder in a child’s eyes as they are transported by the captivating power of a story well told. Grinagog Theatre present Twinkle Bell, a magical Christmas tale for three to six year olds at the Citizens Theatre. Twinkle Bell is the fairy on top of the Christmas tree, but one day she follows a glittering snowflake out of the window of her flat and gets lost. We join her, and the friends she meets along the way, on a journey to help get her back to the top of her tree.

The set, ideas and execution are simplistic but this enchanting experience shows what can be achieved in a performance space no more than ten feet by six. Clare McGarry’s script effectively incorporates many theatrical elements through the appealing characters: the cast of “friends” include an hilarious Scottish chef Mr. Scrummy, who engages in some gentle slapstick, eliciting howls of delight from the young viewers; a sparkly cowboy horse who delivers a gentle sing-a-long song and they’re all joined by a rather skittish rat who has the children on their feet dancing. All this added to puppetry, storytelling, acting, costumes and a transforming set, imaginatively introduces the young audience to almost every theatrical device known.

The teeny audience, sitting on multi-coloured cushions on the floor in front of the actors, remain utterly entranced and impeccably behaved throughout, their attention never wavering, instinctively responding and interacting, carried along by the engaging narrative. The performers Eilidh McCormick and Chris Alexander deftly handle any unscripted interactions and subtly and skilfully manipulate the tiny sized audience to keep them fully involved.

This is the epitome of a production perfectly tailored for its audience – the mixture of puppetry, song and interaction strikes the perfect balance. Its 45 minute length just long enough to ensure that the attention never wanes. It captivates the hearts, not only of its tiny target audience but of the rather bigger friends they bring with them. A charming and beguiling introduction to theatre and a reminder that the simplest of things can create the greatest magic.

Runs until 30 December

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