My Dad’s a Birdman, Young Vic, London
Father and daughter are in a flap in more ways than one in My Dad's a Birdman, this year's super soaraway Christmas entertainment at the Young Vic. David Annen's scrawny, beguiling Dad appears to be several twigs short of the full nest with his jerky avian twitches, hops, hoots and nasal burrowings into a bin-bag.
Since his wife died, he's lost the plot, leaving the running of the household to his schoolgirl daughter, Lizzie, and hatching the scheme of winning the Great Human Bird Competition, which offers £1000 to whoever can fly furthest over the Tyne.
Oliver Mears's production beautifully captures the barmy charm and moving emotional undercurrents of this David Almond tale, which carries a heartwarming message about the power of belief and familial bonds. Charlie Sanderson is a delight as Lizzie, matter-of-factly shouldering too much responsibility and radiating an infectious love for her father. Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have provided the score, which ranges from a ditty on dumpling-making to an enchanting song about the approach of evening during which, as they waft their patchwork DIY plumage, Annen and Sanderson reveal all the warmth of the father-daughter intimacy that's revived when she joins his madcap escapade.
An eccentric amalgam of blimp, bird, and butler, Sam Cox's monocled recruiter alliteratively announces the competitors who launch themselves off the ramp to watery defeat. Even if Dad and Lizzie rely on "wings and faith" rather than contraptions, don't expect false uplift here. They too take a ducking, but not before they have galvanised Paul Bentall's gauche headmaster and Tracey Wilkinson's dogmatically earth-bound, dumpling-mad Auntie Doreen with the idea that it's the love-propelled aspiration that counts. Don't try any of this at home, though – except metaphorically.
To 1 January 2011 (020 7922 2922)
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