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Theatre for everyone

From babes-in-arms to kids on the autism spectrum — The Mayflower, Southampton's relaxed performance brings the magic of live theatre to all.

credit-Tristram Kenton

Arguably the South’s most iconic theatre, The Mayflower is major-league — all art-deco interiors and touring West End productions.

In its many incarnations, the performance space has hosted Jimmi Hendrix, The Stones & even The Beatles, before re-opening as The Mayflower in 1987 when a certain Muddy Hants Ed took a group of friends to watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on her seventh birthday.


The Story

It’s the night before Christmas, a little boy befriends a Snowman and sets off on a magical adventure meeting Father Christmas, dancing reindeer, a ballerina and evil Jack Frost. I dare you not to goose-bump when The Snowman and the little boy fly across the stage to Howard Blake’s classic song “Walking in the Air” especially if, like me, you were raised on the iconic eighties film.

credit-Tristram Kenton

As per the film, the narrative is driven by mime, dance, song and a flying Snowman. The most touching thing about this relaxed performance was the gentle murmur of Grandparents explaining the story to their Grandchildren; off-putting normally, but because there were no spoken words and the lights were only dimmed, somehow it didn’t matter.


The Sets and Costumes

credit-Tristram Kenton

Ruari Murchison’s strong, geometric shapes and primary colours are reminiscent of a child’s Wendy House. The costumes are faithful to Raymond Briggs’ much-loved book, from The Snowman’s floppy hat to the little boy’s striped blue PJs. Tim Mitchell’s gentle use of lighting to create the snow scene will appeal to some kids on the autistic spectrum who love visual stimulation.


Who’s it for?

I took my eight-year-old daughter, and in truth she was too old. Had I taken my ants-in-her-pants 3-year-old she would have been in heaven, I’d say the cut off point is when Little Mix replaces Charlie & Lola. Other than that everyone is welcome, whatever their special needs.

The Snowman run is now finished but keep an eye out for more relaxed performances at The Mayflower.

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