Written: Georgia Pritchett
Directed: Sarah Tipple
Reviewer: Rosanna Sloan
Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s much loved fairy tale that has spawned many popular adaptations, including the record breaking Disney film Frozen, The Snow Queen is a fantastic tale of adventure, as one girl summons the courage to rescue her best friend from the terrible Snow Queen.
Georgia Pritchett’s adaptation does not disappoint. Best known for her writing on top television shows Miranda and The Thick of It, Pritchett’s clever comedic style translates well to family theatre. The script has the perfect dose of comedy, story and wisdom as Gerda and Raven learn important lessons about themselves, and the world around them, from their adventures across the frozen lands. The show is highly entertaining for both children and adults, with many references that will leave the adults laughing, while the children are encapsulated by the set and the story that unfolds before them.
Pritchett expertly weaves popular fairy tales into the narrative, but with a delightful twist. We meet Snow White and her Prince Charming having a few marital issues, Little Red Riding Hood, full of teenage angst, looking for revenge on the wolf that killed her Grandma and the Wicked Witch trying to rebuild her home after two pesky children, Hansel and Gretel, decided to eat her welcome mat. The icing on the cake during these interactions is the toe tapping tunes that have been composed by local award winning composer Dougal Irvine. These songs will be stuck in your head for days, and rightfully so. The music and the script work perfectly together to keep the pace and the story evolving, while giving us more of an insight into the story book characters we meet.
The cast is strong, and all have beautiful voices making this performance a real treat to watch. As the ensemble dip in and out of different characters, often playing instruments as they go, it is exciting to see who they will turn into next and all fully embrace their characters no matter how wonderfully ridiculous. Children will particularly enjoy Jack Shalloo’s performance as the hip hop rapping Raven, who has some great deadpan lines to make us laugh unexpectedly. Rudolph, performed by Rob Castell, was also a huge hit with adults and children alike, this over the top Santa loving musical reindeer is the ‘Olaf’ of this tale, and a character you won’t forget in a hurry. Fresh out of drama school Jessie Hart gives a heartfelt performance as Gerda, and is certainly an actress to watch. She brings great humility and likeability to the rôle, and with the entire ensemble, draws the audience into really caring about her quest to find her friend Kai.
Natasha Jayetileke, who plays the Snow Queen, can dare to be more menacing at the beginning of the performance, to build the atmosphere and suspense for younger audiences, before we see her not so evil personality shine through. The lighting, from Mark Doubleday, and set, designed by Ti Green, make the most of the space that is available to transport the audience to the many different locations included in the story, always keeping a surprise up their sleeves.
The Snow Queen has great potential, with only the space and technical capabilities of The Nuffield holding it back. As a co-production with Royal &Derngate, in Northampton, this show will transfer there next year. There is great scope for this show to get bigger and even better; it has all the elements that make a fantastic family show that will be remembered for years to come. Pritchett’s script is a welcome addition to new writing for family audiences, it ensures there is something for everyone, including the adults, with plenty of magic, wonder and adventure. The Snow Queen is a high quality, highly entertaining performance that will win against any panto you are likely to see this Christmas. Grab a ticket while you still can.
Photo Mark Douet ¦ The Snow Queen plays until the 4th January 2015.