Holiday treats for kids at the theatre
Holly Williams gives a run down of this year's top Children's shows
Hansel and Gretel
Theatrical auteur Katie Mitchell and young playwright Lucy Kirkwood – who've both had hits for grown-ups this year with Ten Billion and NSFW, respectively – collaborate on a kids' show again, after their hit Beauty and the Beast. A little bit scary and a lot magical, with witches, animal puppets and rhyming couplets, it offers a fresh take on the traditional panto fodder.
National Theatre, London SE1 (nationaltheatre.org.uk); till 26 Jan
In a Pickle
When it comes to Shakespeare, Oily Cart – which caters especially for tots – thinks you're never too young. In a Pickle is a loose version of The Winter's Tale. It ditches the chill jealousy of the first half, putting little ones straight into a cheery world of sheep shearing, mystery babes and happy endings. Interactive and multisensory, it's a tactile take on Shakespeare's version.
Unicorn Theatre, London SE1 (unicorntheatre.com); till 6 Jan, then on tour
Playwright Mike Kenny knows how to write for children. His adaptation of The Railway Children won hearts (and an Olivier Award), and this Christmas he's practically taking over the north with new versions of fairy tales: Rapunzel in Sheffield, Beauty and the Beast in Huddersfield, and Sleeping Beauty in Leeds. He scatters a fresh sparkle over the classic story, adding wit, songs and silliness.
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds (wyp.org.uk); till 19 Jan
The House Where Winter Lives
Punchdrunk wowed adult audiences with its immersive shows, but its Dr Who-themed outing, The Crash of the Elysium, proved that an alternative world creation worked – unsurprisingly – just as well for youngsters. This festive tale sees the junior audience helping Mr and Mrs Winter on a journey through a forest, in a hunt for a lost key that will open a larder full of goodies .…
Discover, London E15 (discover.org.uk); till 13 Jan
The Mouse and His Child
A clockwork mouse and (you've guessed it) his child are discarded by thoughtless kids – but toys are alive, and have feelings, too! This adaptation of Russell Hoban's 1960s children's book is directed by Told by an Idiot's Paul Hunter for the Royal Shakespeare Company, which is really on a roll with its family shows. This is another that will please nostalgic adults as much as their offspring.
RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon (rsc.org.uk); till 12 Jan
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