This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews.
Director: Lisa Keenan
The Public Reviews Rating:
There’s a surprisingly large number of tailor-made Christmas performances for the three to six age range this year and the Tron Theatre add their offering Christmas Time to the ever-growing list. In the workshop of the Caretaker of Time, Duster (Mary Gapinski) and Sweep (Toni Frutin) are given the job of taking care of the Christmas clock and keeping it ticking until the big day. The pair must complete a list of chores or Christmas won’t happen, however, the two friends cut a few corners and skip some tasks and suddenly the clock ticks no more.
The set by Kirsty McCabe is welcoming: like a mad professors workshop, festooned with time pieces of every description, cupboards and boxes and drawers galore opening advent-like to reveal the props that help tell the story. However the decision to clad the characters in drab overalls and sturdy brogues misses an opportunity to inject a bit of seasonal sparkle into the proceedings and it’s this lack of festive feeling and a lack of cohesion in the story that contribute to the restlessness of the audience.
We’re taken on a whirlwind tour of the celebrations which take place over the course of a year, in order to introduce the concept of time, but the decision to present the narrative in rhyme adds to the confusion of the young audience who seem to find the piece hard to follow. The interactions that are invited are not naturally picked up on by the tiny viewers. This could be forgiven if the other elements drove the piece along, however with some confusing sequences including one with some very odd Christmas wrapping and some slightly esoteric moments it all leaves the little ones a bit lost, leading to cries of “Why do they keep saying that?”, “Can I go to Argos?”, a minor toddler punch up and many wanderings off.
The audience only truly come alive in the moments of physical comedy – a polar bear hide and seek and the unravelling of an enormous scarf being highlights. Gapinski and Frutin are undoubtedly talented performers but the piece lacks warmth and charm and suffers from a lack of understanding of its target audience. A bit more physical comedy, songs instead of background music, some movement for the little audience and a little sparkle would have added some much needed magic to the proceedings.
Runs until 24 December