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Review: Naughty Meg and the Christmas Elves

Updated: Mar 7

We invited Hetty Waite and her 4-year-old daughter to accompany us to see this Babbling Vagabonds performance for Derby LIVE. Here's what she had to say about it!

For a festive tale of fun, silliness and a sprinkle of Christmas magic, ‘Naughty Meg and the Christmas Elves’ does not disappoint!


With its relaxed atmosphere and quirky décor (including a range of stuffed animals – a taxidermist’s dream!) – Derby Museum and Art Gallery is the perfect setting for this family-friendly performance, lasting approximately 90 minutes. The audience surround the stage on three sides, making this a fairly interactive show, with audience participation encouraged at key moments. This informal set up worked perfectly for the large number of children in attendance, who loved chatting to the elves before the show and the photo opportunity with cast members afterwards. It also meant any typical toddler behaviour (such as having a wander, shouting out ideas and even partaking in a little dance half way through) didn’t ruin things, and instead only added to the atmosphere created by the ‘Babbling Vagabonds’ throughout. Additionally, this ensured that our four-year-olds were engaged for the entire performance – no mean feat in itself!


The cast is made up of an energetic trio of actors, comprised of Phil Coggins, Sarah Gordon and Bethan Haney. Each entertained as a range of different characters, convincingly achieved with simple yet effective costume changes across the performance.


The play revolved around the story of the Barneylegs, a couple of chicken farmers awaiting the birth of their first child. Excluding the chickens, of course, their precious feather babies. Unfortunately for them, their daughter Meg proves to be very, very naughty.  She plays tricks on her neighbours, drops water bombs from trees, will only eat currant bread and refuses to tidy up. Ever. Through the comical interactions with friends and neighbours, including the dancing and karaoke loving Mrs Fennywhistle and the knitting-mad Mrs Jillywig (complete with knitted vacuum cleaner, crib and nappy wipes!), we see Meg exasperate her parents more and more each day in the run up to Christmas. She even calls the local vicar ‘nose picker’ and ‘botty breath’ – much to the delight of the younger audience members!


It’s not until Meg receives a letter from Santa instead of Christmas presents, to say she is at the top of the Naughty List, that she decides to take matters into her own hands by visiting the North Pole to confront him. And by confront, I mean rough him up a bit. She is, after all, the naughtiest girl in the world.

However, Meg hadn’t anticipated the powerful elf magic she would find there, which will teach her a valuable lesson. In a series of events reminiscent of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (but with jokes about farting and more songs) Meg begins to realise the impact of her actions, giving her a chance to mend her ways and find her way onto Santa’s Nice list instead.


There’s plenty of humour throughout this performance, with belly laughs for the slapstick elements and physical comedy, as well as lots of double meanings to entertain the adults. The show delights in downright silliness too, from exaggerated burp noises and even a flying snowman on a stick at one point. With multiple quick character and costume changes, the pace never flags and you forget there are only three actors as they seamlessly transform themselves with the help of a few props. Parents will definitely relate to some of the Barneylegs’ battles with their wilful daughter, even though we don’t all have the threat of a chicken to get our children to go up to bed!


Overall, this is a fabulously festive treat – you would be ‘clucky’ to see it before it ends its run on the 30th December! (Sorry, chicken farmer in-joke there.) If you can make it to Derby before then, I’d highly recommend this heart-warming yet hilarious Christmas offering.

All photographs by IC Things Photography

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