Produced by C theatre, The Snow Queen is a charming adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale by Karina Wilson.
The best performances of the show came from the Snow Queen’s lackeys: a physical, dynamic pair who own the stage
It follows friends Kai and Gerda, who are separated when Kai falls under the spell of the wicked Snow Queen. A shard of her enchanted mirror lodges itself in Kai’s eye and the boy is only able to look with cruelty upon the world, even towards his dear friend Gerda. Soon, the lonely Snow Queen takes Kai to her icy palace to provide her with company. Plucky Gerda sets on off on a quest to rescue her friend.
The opening sequence, while visually interesting, is perhaps a bit too earnest and unfortunately at times the physical movement was in competition with the sound design. There were occasional moments where two of the actors needed to project more, but happily they soon adapted to the acoustics of the space.
While the sound design was effective overall, I question whether so much recorded narration was needed, as the performers also convey information as storytellers. However, designer Bernie Byrnes has done a stunning job with the lighting design, opting to use light to create different spaces as opposed to having multiple set changes. Instead, the stage contains only a small cluster of fir trees, providing plenty of space for the actors to unfold the story physically.
An ensemble of able performers carry the story, in part through storytelling and in part through physical theatre. Kai and Gerda are portrayed in a believable, nuanced manner. I enjoyed the Snow Queen’s graceful movements and glorious singing voice but felt she could have achieved more sinister presence. The best performances of the show came from the Snow Queen’s lackeys: a physical, dynamic pair who own the stage, whether in disguise as creepy flowers, slow-witted bandits, or crows, as they embark on their own journey to escape their evil queen.
This well-realised production provides a good introduction to Andersen’s famous tale. Recommended for 5 years and up, as those younger could be frightened by the dark opening sequence and might find some parts of the story difficult to follow.