Wild Boor Ideas have hit on a great one: involve every child in the audience in magical endeavours and you will have their rapt attention for almost an hour of seasonal fun.
Not only was every child given its own elf hand puppet, but they knew how to use it to magical effect: poor Tappits the Shoemaker (Chris Michael) and his devoted hound Boots (Emma Boor) would not be forced to shut up shop while an army of two, three and four years olds could jangle their elf army's bells.
Boots quickly realised that no shoe sales meant no money and no money meant no biscuits. Every fairy story customer who entered the shop with an urgent story of need raised Boots' spirits, only to have them dashed by the soft hearted kindness of Tappits, who only wanted to help people, seeking no reward.
Whether if was the Gingerbread Man fleeing the fox, or the Fairy Godmother seeking a glass slipper for Cinderella, Tappits' shop attracted them all: but it was the elves who delivered, and as a last action before the shop shut forever, it was the elves who Tappits and Bone rewarded with a handsome set of togs far more glamorous than anything they would ever possess.
They gave without seeking reward, just as the elves helped out freely without expectation of any kind of thanks – which made Tappits' gift the sweeter.
Songs, dance, clowning and beautiful puppetry, particularly in Billy Goat Gruff's hammer foot dance were charmingly realised, and when the magic happened: well, it was something special which all the children in the audience understood.
Matt Winkworth's skilful musical direction added a sensitive melodic thread to the simply story, which never faltered, nor failed to delight. Even babies bounced on their parents' knees, eyes on the technicolour light show on stage.
Nomi Everall's set design was attractive and ingenious, while Ophelie Lebrasseur's lighting added sparkle to the show.
The under fives are a tough gig, but Wild Boor Productions had 'em licked.