December 12, 2011 8:47 pm

Magical Night, Linbury Theatre, London

It depends, I suppose, what your young understand as “magical”. Magical Night is a new entertainment for children, choreographed by Aletta Collins, amusingly designed by Rachael Canning, and claiming as cachet its use of an eponymous score by Kurt Weill, first given in Berlin in 1922 as a “children’s pantomime”.

The music’s subsequent history is of no great import and, as proposed by the chamber ensemble in the Linbury pit, the piece is agreeable and, on a first hearing, no great shakes. But it is an excuse for Collins’s cosy narrative about two small children, one boy, one girl, whose toys come to life after lights out.

The show, lasting an hour, is as predictable as this dramatic scheme. Its sags in the middle – the behaviour of toys and tinies can be snoringly samey in the theatre – but it is given with bright energies by a cast oh-so-eagerly able to flesh out the action with strong characterisation.

At Friday night’s first performance, an audience of the young and their minders was happily attentive, and involved enough for a little angel (and nascent critic) to burst into merry laughter as one of the toys started to whack the daylights out of another. Things cheer up as a wicked witch, engagingly impersonated by Lorena Randi with a nice line in tot-cooking, brings some edge to the event.

The staging is skilled in its appeal to the young, and it gains immeasurably from the performance by Thomasin Gülgeç, a fine dancer whom we have admired with Rambert, whose vivid presence and acrobatic bravura are theatrical gold. The tricks of the production are well managed; the cast is tireless, the dramatic activity cleanly played. The little boy, who is central to the action, was taken on Friday night with aplomb and a very nice sense of dramatic effect by Rudy Talboys (he is one of three child casts), and my not-so-inner Herod was beguiled.

Should you take the young? Why not? The staging is bright, efficient, unsparing in jollity; the span of an hour without interval is supportable for both adults and ankle-biters; the music is tuneful, the cast madly enthusiastic. A magical night? Hmmm. A jolly time for the children? Yes.

3 stars

www.roh.org.uk/

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