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Owl Who Came For Christmas at the Curve

Review by Charlotte Beaver

A charming show for the holiday season!

This heart-warming show is a must for any tiny people and their grown-ups. The story follows the true-life tale of a family (who were originally in Atlanta, Georgia) who found a tiny real live owl hidden in their Christmas tree that year! This story was re-told in a popular book by John Hay and Garry Parsons, and has been adapted for the stage by talented local theatre-maker Chandni Mistry – wearing her ‘writer hat’ for this project, alongside director Cara Nolan. In fact, this production has been created using mainly local talent and is all the richer for it, another ‘Made At Curve’ production to truly be proud of. 

All of these performances are ‘relaxed’ – meaning the house lights don’t get too dark, there are no loud noises or flashing lights, and the actors ease the audience into the show by welcoming us to the show out of character, and then explaining the story clearly all the way through. As all good family theatre should be!

The scenery is simple but effective, in the style of the book illustrations – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Similarly, the costumes tell us all we need to know without being fussy. A beautiful large moon is used to great effect and the snowy magic is a very special highlight at the end of the show!

The actors are highly engaging and friendly, without being patronising or sickly - with Annabelle Terry really shining in her role, a beautiful singing voice accompanied by a really enjoyable soundtrack which is both diverse enough to be interesting but cohesive enough to bring everything together. And I always love a show with integrated musicians! While Rosie herself is perhaps a little bigger than expected, puppetry is used to great effect and we genuinely care about Rosie and her friends. The show is extremely well-crafted to keep children engaged in the story, being part of the action and concentrating. There are plenty of opportunities to join in from your seat to avoid the fidgets!

The script is sensitive to the emotions of children, particularly their worries about chopping down trees and habitat loss after watching Planet Earth III and Countryfile! We are reassured that Rosie the Owl will return to her home in the woods, and more trees will be replanted. Phew!

The narrative allows room for some of the much-loved devices of a pantomime, without any of the annoying bits so if you want to go to the theatre but can’t be doing with, “Oh no, he isn’t! OH YES HE IS!” then this is a much better way to spend an afternoon. Age guidance for this production is 3+ but after about 45 minutes, the smaller audience members were getting a bit restless – so I’d suggest ages 4-5+ for any but the most ardent mini theatregoers. If you can, get seats on the front row for the best experience. And the activity book/programme is well worth a look to extend your visit, as well as an opportunity to meet Rosie and the cast at the end. I hope to see more work of this quality from this production team, as they’re onto a winner with this.

The Owl Who Came For Christmas is Curve’s offer for families during the festive season, running until Saturday 6th January in the studio space. Many performances are already sold out, so book now to avoid disappointment. Prices £10-£16. 

Elsewhere in Thurmaston

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