THE SNOW QUEEN
by Hans Christian Andersen adapted by Georgia Pritchett music by Dougal Irvine.
Royal & Derngate (Royal auditorium) Guildhall Road NN1 1DP To 3 January 2016.
10.30am 1-3, 8-11 Dec.
1.15pm 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 24, 26-28, 31 Dec, 2, 3 Jan.
2.15pm 1-4, 8-11, 15-17, 21-23, 29, 30 Dec.
5.15pm 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 24, 26-28, 31 Dec, 2, 3 Jan.
7.15pm 4, 15-17, 21-23, 29, 30 Dec.
Audio-described 17 Dec 2.15pm, 28 Dec 5.15pm.
BSL Signed 10 Dec 2.15pm.
Captioned 29 Dec 7.15pm.
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.
TICKETS: 01604 624811.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 November.
Visually vibrant production with energetic performances.
There’s a vital judgment to be made when developing Christmas shows other than pantomimes. Because it’s the Christmas show, thousands of people, many of then young, will come – many rarely if ever having been before. It’s a chance to capture imaginations with compelling storytelling and theatricality.
Yet people often come expecting a pantomime; possibly using the word to cover any seasonal show. Aware of this, many theatres start-out with a bold story, colourfully told, then pull-up short for musical and humorous diversions.
The most skilful creators – and writer Georgia Pritchett is certainly skilful in her adaptation of Hans Andersen’s fine story – incorporate fun and musical energy while keeping story, pace and character interest on the move.
Pritchett adds some personal back-story for Caroline Head’s imposing Queen, explaining how she became iced-up in heart and mind, and allowing her to melt rather than merely melt away at the redemptive end.
There are elisions and omissions in the storytelling, but it’s a rich enough narrative for this to be a strength rather than weakness – fast-pulsed and pointed as determined young Gerda overcomes obstacles and distractions to rescue her friend Kai, imprisoned in the Queen’s polar ice-cap home. Only the music and lyrics fail to rise beyond the mundane.
Friendship is central, though it’s a pity the point’s repeatedly asserted, like a Victorian moral sentiment, being announced rather than developing organically within the story,
References to other popular folk-stories help shape the action, notably Hansel and Gretel, as told by the nicest wannabe Witch in the world, a delightful comic character played with great earnestness by Angela Bain before she leads everyone in a merry dance. Tosin Olomowewe is a forceful and comic presence as avian companion to Mona Goodwin’s energising Gerda.
But all performances are lively in Gary Sefton’s swift, economical production, distinguished by his usual visual invention and energy, creating a serious yet playful style for 5+ that can accommodate references to twitter and a group selfie without disturbing the action’s forward thrust. Ti Green’s set consists of planes and ice-mirror frames, both helping the sense of space and adventure.
Witch: Angela Bain.
Princess/Robber Maiden: Mairi Barclay.
Gerda: Mona Goodwin.
Snow Queen: Caroline Head.
Raven: Tosin Olomowewe.
Prince/Rudolph: Richard Pryal.
Kai: Jonny Weldon.
Director: Gary Sefton.
Designer: Ti Green.
Lighting: Richard Godin.
Sound: Gareth Thomas.
Musical Director: Harrison White.
Choreographer: Andrew Wright.
Costume: Sara Perks.
Assistant director: Alex Rea.
Associate sound: Martin Thompson.