Davor Golub

Review: ELF at the Dominion Theatre

Elf: The Musical There are certain shows where you are painfully aware that you are just not the target audience. Arriving at Elf, which is playing a Christmas season at the Dominion Theatre, I tried vainly to go with the flow and just accept the evening for the light, Christmas treat it is meant to be. However the relentless predictability and lack of theatrical imagination left me frustrated. Yet despite the controversially inflated ticket prices for a family show, the rest of the audience appeared to be having a great time and the show delivered the kind of family entertainment they were clearly anticipating.

Based on the hit 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, Elf is the story of Buddy, a human orphan who was adopted by Santa. Despite being much taller than all the other elves, Buddy, now 30 years old, accidentally discovers that he is in fact human. This leads buddy to New York City to find his biological father, a hardened, workaholic children’s storybook editor. Once in New York Buddy charms one and all with his innocence and good heart resulting in the cynical citizens of New York rediscovering their belief in Santa Claus.

As Buddy, Ben Forster sings the tuneful score beautifully and throws himself into Buddy’s comic shtick with energy, but lacks the innate comedic gifts of someone like Ferrell. As the love hardened girl he falls for, Kimberley Walsh of Girls Aloud fame, sings strongly and makes the most of a rather thankless role. In fact the entire cast gives it their all and do as much as they can with the script’s very broad characterisations.

Directed and choreographed with theme park like efficiency by Morgan Young the show is bright and sparkly and its frenetic pace should keep young audience members engaged. Expecting a bit more bang for my buck at these prices, I was rather disappointed by the somewhat sparse set design that was supplemented by the now ubiquitous filmed projections. The only truly magical moment was Santa’s flight in his sleigh which was well done and will impress one and all.

The only truly magical moment was Santa’s flight in his sleigh which was well done and will impress one and all

So if you are looking for an alternative to panto this Christmas and can afford the high ticket prices, Elf is the kind of silly, tuneful fun that should engage the children in your family. And as always with a family show, if the kids are happy, the parents are happy.

Elf tickets