The children are ushered into the Edwardian parlour of the Moonbeam Hotel. And what’s that? A dog dusting? And a Scottish cat welcoming everyone in? Whose bright idea even is this?
Santa’s, that’s whose. He set up The Christmas Cat and dog in this astonishing place to look after something quite special – magical moonbeams, which guide him across the night sky on Christmas Eve. When the smallest house mouse arrives at the hotel and doesn’t think they exist, an even smaller audience member puts him straight with a firm: ‘oh yes they do!’
Everything exists here, not least of all magic. Local theatre companies Play On Words, Icon Theatre and Loop Dance (who collaboratively produce these shows) are dab hands at early years promenade performances, and their Christmas show is a constant, high calibre confection.
There are songs to be sung, dances to be learned and magical flowers to be gently, quietly collected (managed in an atmosphere of excitement with Pied Piper levels of persuasion) to thwart the Evil Weasel – a petulant Prince Regent of a rodent, out to scupper Christmas with only The Christmas Cat, Dog, Mouse, the heathery fairy-dancing Spirit of The Heath and a host of tiny children to stop him.
The sets are truly beautiful: Christmas Day-perfect. I’d happily take lunch in the parlour and head to the beautiful Scottish heath for a post-prandial stroll before cosying up in the Evil Weasel’s woodland-vibed castle for a nice, peaty dram. That you get to wander through them as part of the performance is simply wonderful.
As the stars and moonbeams come out at the thrilling finale, are the goosebumps you’ll feel because those Weasel castles are a bugger to heat, because of the (yes!!!) snow, or because maybe, just maybe, those moonbeams are the light that gets in to even the most humbugged of hearts? McMagical.
The show runs from 2 December to 24 December at the Brook Theatre, Chatham, and is recommended for children aged three to six years.