Could I get in the Christmas spirit in Mid November? Well I tried with a visit to the stage adaptation of the film Elf. This show has been making headlines before it even opened due to its exorbitant ticket prices. So throughout the whole show, my mind was thinking “Is this show worth £200 per ticket?”
And as I left the theatre, I had to be honest, it’s just not worth the asking price and also pales in comparison to other shows in the West End. I was rather disappointed with the show. It has a bit of a cheap and tacky feel, the set and graphic backdrop are rather basic and the songs are all very similar. Sitting here less than 12 hours later, I honestly can’t really remember any of the songs.
The cast do a good job with the material they’ve been given, Ben Forster as Buddy the Elf carries and steals the show. Joe McGann as his businessman father plays the straight role well. Kimberly Walsh gives a good turn as the love interest but she only gets one solo number which was a shame as I felt she could have given so much more. Mark McKerracher as Santa was a bit of a let down, his accent flitted between English and American which was frustrating.
There were two tap dancing numbers which were well choreographed and good fun, but as the stage hadn’t been miked up, we couldn’t get the full sound of the taps going and they were drowned out by the orchestra which meant the effect of the routines was lost.
My biggest gripe was the complete lack of adapting this for a UK audience. Hundred of years of pantomime tradition totally ignored. There was NO interaction with the audience when on several occasions there were perfect opportunities to include the youngsters and those young at heart into the onstage action. Too many Americanisms in the script could have been adapted easily and I also think for a family show there were an unnecessary amount of innuendos.
It saves itself with a magical flying sleigh and snow falling on audience at the end which leaves you in the Christmas spirit. It’s worrying that I’m saying the best bits of the show are two technical elements rather than the actually content.
It had the soulless feel of all that’s wrong with the commercialisation of Christmas. If you’re contemplating taking your family to see a Christmas show in London over the holiday period there are much better (Slava’s Snowshow for example) and cheaper ones you can visit and a whole host of better non-Christmas shows in the West End you could see.
Sorry if I sound like Scrooge but I love Christmas and the theatrical traditions that go with it, but I hope this show doesn’t become one of them.
STARS: ★ ★