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Review: The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington (Sleeping Trees)

The festive season is upon us, yet something is sorely missing. Yes. You're right. It's the Sleeping Trees' annual Christmas production, last year it was Goldilocks & The Three Musketeers, the year before that it was Scrooge & The Seven Dwarfs. I had almost come to terms with the thought of forgoing this particular yuletide tradition, when I was informed that all my worries were about to be assuaged. The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington is a little different, with theatres shut the Trees have come up with a genius workaround that sacrifices none of their brilliant invention: A living-room adventure.

The story, a lovingly crafted mishmash of folk and fairy tales, follows Dick Whittington, on his first Christmas as Mayor of London Town. Unfortunately the festivities are cut short when Moby Dick (yes, the whale) swallows Santa; and thus commences a grand adventure, as Dick (the mayor, not the whale) attempts to rescue Santa from the cavernous belly of Dick (the whale, not the mayor).

If you haven't seen the Trees perform before, you're bound to be won over. Made up of James Dunnell-Smith, John Woodburn and Joshua George Smith, their energy is infectious as they switch on the turn of a pin from character to character, but this year it's not just the actors who are changing every few seconds, it's also the set. This is where the show really comes alive. Filmed in a house, every nook and cranny is utilised to maximum effect to create such diverse locations as: the interior of a whale, a shipwreck, a bougie coffee shop and the evil King Rat's lair (complimented with excellent rat costumes).

This show is perfect for the whole family, it has enough whimsy and Christmas cheer to carry along even those set on behaving like Scrooge. The audience interaction (no easy feat when the show is pre-recorded!) is charming and though I watched the show sans children, I can easily imagine a little ones' glee at the instruction to pelt the Mayor with scrunched up paper.

It's also worth mentioning how slick and professional the production of this piece is, when I say living-room adventure it may conjure images of shoddy old home movies, let me dispel any idea of the sort. This is filmed gorgeously, and the wonderful music (composed by the co-writer, Ben Hales) carries us through each scene with aplomb. I said it last year and I'll say it again, if you're looking for a panto to bring the whole family to this Christmas, look no further than The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington.

P.S. The whale costume, is so, so good.

Tickets are available from the 1st of December to the 5th January. Get them here.

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