The Magic Elves at Bristol Old Vic

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Originally written for Theatre Bristol Writers.

The world of the magic shoe shop is a surreal and vivid one where the characters are wacky the tunes are uplifting and the dance is so infectious that even the queen gets her groove on.

Harbouring some energetic dance moves and a secret ambition to be a top DJ the shoemaker is responsible for the shop and the customer order book yet unable to make shoes. He is pursued by the dastardly Mr Numbers who is intent on closing the shop unless the debt to him is paid. Happily, unbeknown to the shoemaker the shop is inhabited by jukebox dwelling elves with the ability to magic objects into brand new and beautiful custom made shoes using the power of music, movement and play. Through a variety of often spangley footwear creations the elves and the shoemaker transform the lives of the customers, culminating in a massive dance party finale as the enthusiastic audience are invited onto the stage to throw their own imaginative shapes on the dance floor.

The magic shoe shop is often one of bling, sparkle and spectacle complete with glitter, baubles and silver jumpsuits but has the simplicity of play at its heart. This is no better demonstrated than in the opening five minutes as the children in fits of giggles watched whilst through ease of mime and movement a simple plastic sheet was repeatedly transformed into a number of comedy scenarios. This captured the imaginations of the young audience from the outset, who seemed as if quite convinced that this was the funniest thing they had ever seen. With a combination of disco, pop, rock, rave and dance floor anthems that only the grown ups will remember, the attention of the small people was held throughout and the kids were always eager to participate whether this be through cheering, dancing, clapping or bravely blowing a raspberry at the dastardly Mr Numbers.

Despite being a few years above the recommend audience age range for this production I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s often easy to disregard children’s’ theatre as being just for youngsters but this is a show that appeals to the fun and the silly in all of us. Its previously been said that children’s theatre is important not just for its direct entertainment or educational qualities but for its ability to remind us of the value of children and of their experience of the world. After a joyful morning with the magic elves this has been reiterated to me and it was inspiring to watch the bravery of the audience engaging wholeheartedly, dancing unselfconsciously, and making immediate sense of a sometimes surreal story or environment.

The Magic Elves is a show that fizzes with vivacity and life and is an energetic tribute to the power of dance, gibberish and disco. Celebrating play, creation and the merits of good footwear it’s sure to get bodies moving and feet tapping all over Bristol this Christmas. Party on.

The Magic Elves is showing at Bristol Old Vic until 3rd January. Find out more here #MagicElves

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