You can tell a lot about a children’s show from the way its young audience responds to it.
The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot
Macrobert, Stirling Star rating: * * *
If they’re hanging off the performers’ every word, you know the balance between engagement, entertainment and storytelling has been struck. If the sound of numerous young voices is competing with a key bit of narrative, something’s not quite right – as was the case here.
There’s a lovely slow reveal halfway through The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot, when it becomes clear friendly Mr McGregor leads a double life. But after a witty opening, both performances and direction become understated.
Writer Oliver Emanuel seems more concerned with delivering a morality tale than finding new ways to ensure his audience feels part of the action. Billy Riddoch does a fine job early on as the forgetful McGregor, getting us all on-side. There’s also a magical moment, when a wink of his eye triggers an array of twinkling lights. Elsewhere, the show trundles along, making valid points about friendship and values, but rarely tapping into the festive excitement of your average nursery-goer.