At this time of year it is normal for theatres to be awash with pantos. At the Roundhouse, though, YaD Arts and Tall Stories have created Lemony Snicket’s Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, a rather different children’s Christmas production. This festive show follows the journey of a latke (a type of potato pancake) who is made for Hanukkah but escapes the frying pan and runs away. He meets a candy cane, a pine tree and various other symbols of Christmas, but his attempts to tell them about the traditions of Hanukkah fall on deaf ears.
As a children’s production, it ticks all the right boxes – it is engaging, funny and full of enchanting characters. Music features heavily, with all the actors playing some kind of instrument, and there are familiar and newly-written Christmas songs galore. The story is easy to follow and explains some of the lesser-known facts and traditions of Hanukkah. Yet while thoroughly educational (I, for one, didn’t even know what a latke was before seeing the play!), the point of the show is undoubtedly first and foremost to entertain.
The show takes place in a smaller studio space at the Roundhouse, an intimate, magical setting which is perfect for its young audience. Bek Palmer, along with co-directors Olivia Jacobs and Tim Hibberd, have done a brilliant job at creating Lemony Snicket’s Christmassy world. A small model house is cleverly used as many different props, and the darkened silhouette of a town as the backdrop is beautifully lit. The cast throw themselves into the challenge of bringing the story to life. Michael Lambourne is particularly engaging and full of energy as the eponymous latke, and the children in the audience loved him.
The show was accompanied throughout by laugher and delighted shrieks from the children in the audience, and even as a 20-year-old, I found lots to enjoy. This brilliant adaptation is a refreshing alternative to the slew of Christmas pantomimes, and well worth going to see.
Lemony Snicket’s The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming is running at The Roundhouse until 30 December 2012. For more information and tickets, see the Roundhouse website.