Children’s Christmas show review: A Most Peculiar Wintry Thing

Sniffs and snuffles are welcome at this lively classical concert for kids

Composer Brian Irvine

Composer Brian Irvine

 

The Ark, Dublin

****

 

This classical concert for children aged four and up is composed by Brian Irvine, with lyrics by John McIlduff. Numbers such as Ice Maiden match the mystery of Yuletide celebration with magical melodies, while songs such as My Christmas Lights Are Tangled pair the chaos of Christmas preparations with more complex atonal noise.

The four musicians (Matthew Sharpe, Matthew Bourne, Paul Roe and Alex Petcu) and their instruments fill the stage. Emma Fisher provides ingenious live animation, and the appearance of a giant Brussels sprout looking over her projections makes for great visual comedy to counterpoint some of the more sombre music.

The seasonal theme of the show is mercifully broader than Christmas. Go to Sleep is a hibernation lullaby, while Symphony in Cough Minor is a paean to the winter flu, and the musicians encourage the audience to sniff, snuffle and sneeze to their lively tune. It is the highlight of the 50-minute show, because it breaks entirely with the formalities of concert-hall presentation.

The experience could be enhanced for young viewers, however, by a short introduction to the instruments, and perhaps an invitation for greater interaction; if a child has never seen a real glockenspiel, they have surely have never struck one, and that’s the sort of experience that could prove truly inspirational. Until Dec 21

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