Mabel’s Magnificent Flying Machine – Gate Theatre – Review
by Fran Winston
Until 24th December – Dates and Times below
Eschewing traditional panto, the Gate Theatre is instead offering this pop-up Christmas adventure for their festive family fare. Written and directed by Louise Lowe and starring Caitriona Ennis, children are greeted by a messy set comprising of the pieces of the Magnificent Flying Machine of the title before Mabel Mayfly appears from through the roof of the theatre. She is one of the “left behinds”, that is an elf who never gets to do the good stuff because her curiosity always gets her into trouble.
In an attempt to be useful she created a turbo engine to make Santa’s sleigh travel 26 times faster around the world, without Rudolph and his other beloved reindeer (who are getting on a bit, apparently). Unfortunately, while testing it she crash-landed which is how she finds herself in the Gate theatre seeking the assistance of the audience to repair the machine and get back to the North Pole.
Looking much like she’s auditioning to be a CBeebies presenter in bright green overalls, Ennis is a bundle of energy as Mabel and seems genuinely excited to have an audience of children to interact with (even when one of them is a massive chatterbox like the night I attended). The children can sit on beanbags right in front of the stage and this really adds to the relaxed atmosphere and feels less stuffy than most theatre outings.
While there is a lot of interaction with the children, unlike panto, there are few musical numbers, just one singalong about an Eircode. The children don’t seem to mind though as there are plenty of shiny and noisy things happening to distract them.
Coming in at around 45 minutes, it is just long enough to engage younger audience members without losing them. Catriona Ennis is impressive throughout and her energy is infectious, she even managed to convince the grown-ups to get on their feet and interact with her during the show.
The show is quite simple. She tells the audience how she got there while instilling a message about hope and realising what’s important in life. It is quite delightful and children will love it. Especially since following the show, they will receive an email with a link to a video message from a certain someone. It is recommended for children above six and I think that the 6–9-year-old demographic will enjoy this the most although older children will appreciate it. This is a lovely alternative to panto and a fun festive experience for all the family.
The Mabel’s Magnificent Flying Machine Company
Mabel: Caitríona Ennis
Written and Directed by: Louise Lowe
Set and Costume Design: Owen Boss
Lighting Design: Sinéad Wallace
Sound Design: Carl Kennedy
Tickets – €15. Previews – €10. Family ticket for four – €45.
Until December 24th. Wednesday December 1st: 5.00pm and 7.00pm; Thursday December 2nd: 5.00pm and 7.00pm; Friday December 3rd: 5.00pm and 7.00pm; Saturday December 4th: 2.00pm and 4.00pm; December 7th to December 19th; Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 6.00pm; Thursdays and Fridays: 5.00pm and 7.00pm; Saturdays and Sundays: 2.00pm and 4.00pm; Tuesday December 21st: 5.00pm and 7.00pm; Wednesday December 22nd: 5.00pm and 7.00pm; Thursday December 23rd: 2.00pm and 4.00pm; Friday December 24th: 2.00pm and 4.00pm