As a cross between the madness of The Clangers and the sketchy wonder world of Tim Burton, The Elves and the Shoemaker is a charming children’s show that takes big and little listeners on a beautiful imaginative journey. In a colourful re-imagining of this Grimm Brothers’ classic tale, Theatre of Widdershins once again strikes gold at the Fringe, boosting the hardy fan club that has built up over their years of success.
Elvis Schumacker III, our moustachioed and sprightly narrator, played by the lovable Andy Lawrence, bounds across the stage, immediately enthralling every eager ear with a masterful stroke of his conjuring voice and assuring character. Elvis invites us into his quiet little grandfather’s shoe shop, a treasure chest of luxurious leathers and carefully crafted footwear that is at the heart of the local town.
Yet one day, disaster strikes as a huge grey shoe factory filled with tired grey workers springs up from the bowels of the town. It sells ludicrously cheap shoes that batter and bruise the tender feet of the townspeople and Elvis’ grandfather’s business begins to struggle to compete. Having fallen on hard times, it becomes up to granddad Schumacker, with the help of his grandson, a squeaky cheese-loving mouse and some cheeky little elves, to battle against the cut-throat world of the factory and bring back happy, healthy feet in gorgeous well-fitting shoes.
The Elves and the Shoemaker has a simplicity and warmth that is overwhelmingly endearing and kept a packed theatre of children wide-eyed, fascinated and inquisitive throughout. This show has the nostalgic magic of adventurous tales told at grandmother’s knee perfectly matched with modern-day jokes and enthused audience participation. Full of vivid colours, subtle lights and incredibly mesmerising puppetry, The Elves and the Shoemaker is a real feast for the eyes for all ages and tastes. An amazing childhood experience of the very best kind.
*****- 5/5 stars
The Elves and the Shoemaker is on at the Scottish Storytelling Centre until August 27th at 13.00. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.