What is magic, really? Is it an evil enchantress who can freeze a person in ice? Is it a crow who can talk? Or is it seeing dozens of little faces light up with joy?
Sure to charm the whole family
After a long year, this adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale couldn’t be more apt for 2020. A land where time feels frozen? Check. People seeing only the bad and ugly in things? Check. But watching live theatre outdoors with a real (socially distanced) audience, smiling and giggling, melts the year’s troubles away, at least for an hour.
The Snow Queen tells the story of Greta and her search for her brother Kay, who has been stolen away by the eponymous Snow Queen herself. Greta is played by Jade Kennedy with childish innocence and Antonia Draper gets plenty of opportunity to flaunt her comedy chops (and many accents) in multiple roles, most prominently as the Bear guard to the Queen’s palace. The star of the show was Crow, Greta’s wise-cracking feathered sidekick, expertly puppeteered by Douglas Rutter. The entire audience fell in love with him as soon as he bounced onto stage, full of sass and Christmas cracker jokes. He was much missed whenever he wasn’t around, although Greta and the Bear were able to provide plenty of laughs on their own with their excellent ice-skating scene.
Set and costume design by Eleanor Bull was simple, but effective. Kennedy’s oversized dungarees helped to make her appear younger than her years and Draper was easily able to transform into a host of characters with a quick change of accessories. Connor Lovejoy worked wonders with the lighting design, from the festive strings of lights twinkling in the background, to the dramatic lighting used to create the illusion of dramatically falling through the air.
The plot is occasionally complicated: Kay’s initial disappearance perhaps wasn’t explained clearly enough after he storms off stage, with some children left questioning what where he’d gone. There were also a few missed opportunities, such as the wordy opening of the play, which could have better visualised the smashing of the mirror for the young audience. However, small grumbles aside, this is a production that is sure to charm the whole family. Playwright Tatty Hennessy has succeeded in bringing what is originally a long and complex story onto a modern stage. It’s no feat to enrapture children under ten, but the whole audience was extremely well behaved, spellbound by the story on stage.
If you’re looking for a boisterous pantomime, this isn’t it. It is a sophisticated and humorous production that is already a sell out success and sure to be a memorable way to end a very difficult year for those lucky enough to have tickets.