The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause, Arts Depot Reviewed by Ekua Ekumah
Published, December 15, 2009
What a pleasant surprise this back to basics production of The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause was.
It is a real joy to see such a generous show with a real investment in storytelling and building the imagination of the audience, both young and old, by taking us on a journey of discovery.
An abandoned orphan boy is discovered in the Forest of Burzee, a forest inhabited by an array of immortal creatures. The twinkle in the eye of this child causes a young nymph to break the laws of the enchanted forest by bringing a mortal into their midst.
Laws are changed, he is given a name, Clause, which means ‘little one’ and he lives and grows among the woodland folk, unaware of the mortal world from whence he came.
The Master Woodsman decides it is time for the adolescent Clause to see his world of mortal folk, and takes him on a journey on his back as they fly through a place that is “always gray and gritty, the city of men”. This place has a big impact on the young Clause and causes him to leave the comforts and joys of his enchanted forest to live on his own in the laughing valley and make ‘the city of men’ a better place.
The joy Clause gets from making his first toy for his pet cat and her pleasure at receiving it, plants the idea of making toys for boys and girls and making them happy. He turns his house into a toy workshop, with the help of his immortal family of elves, nymphs, fairies and the tricky Jack Frost, who all come to visit.
Not everything is as perfect as it sounds, as there can be no good without evil. In our story, the evil come in the form of the ogres, who make children disobey their parents. They have realised that all the children are so well behaved because of the toys from Clause that they decide to capture Clause. A huge battle ensues in which Clause solicits the help of the willing audience to destroy his hundreds of advisories.
The story does not end there. We meet Flossie and Glossie, the nonchalant first pair of reindeers, full of wisdom, who pull Clause’s sledge, we find out why Clause comes through the chimney and not the front door, why we hang out stockings over the fireplace, why Clause delivers only on one day of the year to all the boys and girls, and most importantly, why we never see Santa Clause?
The delight of this production lies in its simplicity of three actors; Ed Burnside, Andrew Pugsley and Holly Beth Morgan, five boxes, which are moved around the space to create various locations and opened to reveal creatures and sounds, and the most vital ingredient, a fantastic traditional story by L Frank Baum.
In a time when the idea of Christmas has been commercialized, this production is a timely reminder of the innocence of children, after all, whether religious or not, Christmas should be about the children.
The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause is at the Arts Depot until January 3, 2010.