Review Elf Dominion Theatre

Review: Elf, Dominion Theatre

Review: Elf, Dominion Theatre

Just… joy.


On the list of films that scream Christmas, Elf ranks high. The well-loved classic starring Will Ferrell was turned into a musical some 12 years ago and has been since regularly staged on both sides of the Atlantic over the Christmas period. And no wonder why – there is perhaps no show that better embodies both the Christmas spirit and the Christmas schmaltz.  

A little half-orphan, Buddy Hobbs, accidentally slips into Santa Claus’ sack of presents and returns with him to the North Pole. Santa and his elves decide to raise the infant as one of them. Years later, Buddy realises that he is a human after all and resolves to find his real father, Walter Hobbs, in the asphalt jungle of New York. But his father hates Christmas, and so seemingly does everyone else in the Big Apple – that is, until they meet Buddy who takes on a mission to spread festive joy to everyone he meets – whether they want it, or not. 

The cast is brilliant. Simon Lipkin as Buddy is disarmingly naïve and wonderfully innocent without making Buddy an utter dimwit. He makes himself very distinct from Will Ferrell but equally joyous. Tom Chambers is an overworked and demotivated Walter Hobb but not really much of a Scrooge. Ladies of the show do marvellous job as well – particularly Rebecca Lock with voice clear and strong as a crystal and Kim Ismay with outstanding comedy timing.  

Visually, Elf is a whirlwind. Tim Goodchild’s set sparkles with festive colours and almost Alice-in-Wonderland-ish design. It is big and impressive, and so is Liam Steel’s super high-energy choreography that rarely gives the audience (not to mention the cast) a space to breathe. Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar’s fast-paces, clever songs are pleasantly varied, consistent and contain lots of potential to get you humming long after you leave the theatre – in my case, There Is a Santa Claus was the hardest to get out of my head, especially that Rebecca Lock and Logan Clark’s performance knocked it out of the park. 

It’s not a perfect show. There are a few cul-de-sac moments that should’ve been resolved and a couple of questionable not-exactly-satisfying resolutions and the movie was indeed, much more in-depth. But in all honesty, you will not care. Elf is just pure joy. Just… joy. 

Dominion Theatre, until 7 January

Image: Kim Ismay as Debs & Simon Lipkin as Buddy in Elf The Musical, credit: Mark Senior