Sarah Mayhew Craddock is charmed by a seasonal tale of delight - aimed at the very young

Part of the joy of Oxford's Story Museum is that, upon entering, you never know what you’re going to get – only that it’s sure to be fantastically imaginative, outrageously good fun, and mind-bogglingly brilliant.

As such, it will come as no surprise to learn that their Christmas production, Winter’s Tales, is no exception.

With only pennies and pine cones in their pockets, Nick Rochester (aka The Story Museum’s caretaker - in Winter’s Tales at least), and his very cute and very squeaky little friend, Winter Mouse, set about to find a way to “deck the hall” or, more accurately, a modest corner of The Story Museum.

Transformation of the greatest scale takes place as the audience is swept up in all the seasonal sparkle of a large scale musical delivered by one man and a mouse! In short, this is an exceptionally good production.

After directing 18 highly acclaimed pantos at the Oxford Playhouse, Tish Francis told how she had been itching to create a Christmas production for The Story Museum since becoming co-director at the museum; and while her 2015/16 production, is vastly pared down in comparison to a large-scale panto, it possesses all the same charm, spirit, jovial humour, music, laughter and pace that one could possibly hope to find in a festive production.

It features three favourite stories, embracing themes of festive transformation and the cycle of nature and the seasons - wrapped up with music, song and laughter by Paul Tonkin.

Tonkin is wonderful, in the literal sense of the word. The tuneful, energetic, engaging and interactive caretaker character takes his audiences on a journey through stories: The Spider’s Christmas, Twas The Night Before Christmas and The Little Fir Tree, seamlessly sliding in songs for the young and young at heart, that had our party humming all the way home (and into the night).

Oxford Mail:

Involving the audience to help create atmosphere, Tonkin’s infectious enthusiasm gripped the audience as he made smart, and fast-paced use of a small, simple set; his captivating storytelling littered with interesting festive facts all of which add up to a most enjoyable show, for children and adults alike.

  • Winter’s Tales continues at The Story Museum until January 3
  • It is suitable for ages three-plus
  • Tickets start from £5 with special bumper tickets also available, which include entry to The Story Museum’s exhibitions.
  • Tickets are available from Tickets Oxford at or by calling the ticket office on 01865 305305.