Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale The Snow Queen is brought to the Gilded Balloon Teviot’s stage in this charming, captivating adaptation, written by Tatty Hennessy. Greta discovers that her brother, Kay, has been stolen away by the mysterious Snow Queen and replaced with a mean-spirited imposter. She becomes friends with a mischievous talking crow and they journey to the North Pole to save Kay in this innovative new production about friendship and loyalty fit for all the family.
The production features a lot of simple yet effective puppetry, specifically the crow puppet, operated by James Tobin. The lifelike motions of the puppet captured the audience, and as it glided smoothly across the stage, I often forgot that there was a person manoeuvring it right behind. Another example of puppetry is how the Snow Queen herself, trapped in a mirror causing her to be evil, is represented using shadow puppetry, another thing that fascinated especially the younger members of the audience. These small elements in shows like this could be very important in sparking a young audience member’s interest in these aspects of theatre.
Jessica Arden is a brilliant lead showcasing her talent in her character’s insecurity about how she is still considered a ‘little girl’ followed by her courage as she voyages to save her brother. She is accompanied by the aforementioned James Tobin as the crow (who also played Kay, showing a great contrast between the two characters) and Jenny Wilford, who narrated the piece, as well as playing a variety of characters throughout the show. Wilford’s commentary throughout the piece adds more imagery to the world in which it’s set, still allowing the children in the audience to use their imagination, while the cast construct parts of the world on stage (like a makeshift plane that Greta assembles out of random belongings in her attic.)
The one fault I had with this production is the occasional attempt to reference things that younger children would find relevant today (bitcoin, gangnam style, etc.) somewhat took away from the delicacy and magic of the story and sort of brought the tone down in a couple of scenes.
However, with a heartfelt script, playful direction from Scott Ellis and brilliant performances from each member of the cast, Snow Queen is definitely a show that neither you nor your young ones are going to want to miss.