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The Magic of Christmas

Pitlochry Festival Theatre Online

Four stars

Pitlochry’s usual Christmas extravaganza may have been kicked into touch along with pretty much every other piece of seasonal entertainment, but that hasn’t stopped the potential for festive fun. In the very magical Tinsel and Tartan shop in Stirling, shopkeepers Clare Grogan and Colin McCredie open the door on a festive yarn by PFT artistic director Elizabeth Newman and filmmaker Russell Beard, in which cheeky elves Lari and Hari go in search of the North Star after losing it in a sci-fi styled Black Hole. 


Our dynamic duo’s journey begins with an advent styled take on The Twelve Days of Christmas, before they seek advice from Grogan’s Mrs Claus, who sings Jingle Bells in her Garden of Art, where stories grow, music blossoms, and the power of the imagination holds sway. Only a trip to outer space where McCredie’s Santa is already in flight can bring Christmas home. 


Filmed after dark and recorded in Covid-safe conditions in PFT’s enticingly icy looking garden, this thirty minute living grotto of a show based on a short play by Newman and associate director Amy Liptrott makes a virtue of the circumstances it was created in, and works miracles to bring it to life. 


Driven along by the fairground organ arrangements of Barbara Hockaday, who also plays Lari alongside Ali Watt as her partner in crime, Hari, despite the show’s bijou setting, it manages to transform its surroundings into a musical wonderland. Much of this comes from Newman’s production design, which is given a sense of even more wonder by Jeanine Byrne’s translucent lighting design. All of which combines to make for a family friendly experience to cherish. 


It may not match the collective splendour of a packed auditorium watching a full blown musical extravaganza, but the level of artistry on show goes way beyond any idea of simply making do, and will keep you believing in magic until things get brighter. 

The Herald, December 11th 2020





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