REVIEW: The Snow Queen, Rose Theatre

Once again, the Rose Theatre uses plenty of creativity for its festive offering to capture younger audience members imagination.

(c)Mark Douet

If you are looking for a Christmas show that has plenty of magic, a talking reindeer and a great sense of humour at the centre of it – then pay a visit to the Rose Theatre in Kingston to catch their latest festive treat.

Adapted and directed by Ciran McConville, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen takes audiences on an epic adventure in which Gerda discovers that not only she has magical powers but the Snow Queen will do anything to stop Gerda from taking her throne – which she is able to do when she comes of age. But when her friend Kai (who Gerda is in love with) is taken by the Queen, Gerda must do what it takes to defeat the Queen.

Filled with pirates, elves and other creatures, there is a wonderful range of characters for the cast to develop and explore with great personality. As always, the Rose Theatre’s festive production makes full use of the talent in the Rose Youth Theatre company, placing them front and centre of the story and keeps the production feeling fresh and lively.

On press night, it was the Blue Cast who were involved and showcased some strong and fun performances. In particular, Francis Redfern’s wonderfully funny performance as Bancu the talking reindeer makes for a wonderful sidekick to Gerda, Nancy Whitworth’s bold pirate captain Bonny and Emily Porter’s Joy whose natural curiosity makes her feel like one of the audience.

Meanwhile, Parisa Shahmir as Gerda is strong and charismatic throughout – an ideal heroine with the final battle between her and the Snow Queen proving to be particularly well choreographed. Jack Wolfe as Kai is equally convincing as he struggles to deal with his grief for his mum and wanting more from life than just selling his father’s dodgy inventions, while Helena Blackman as the Snow Queen is filled with glacial sophistication who never holds back from attempting to get what she wants.

As the story unfolds, Ciaran McConville’s script is filled with brilliantly witty lines but can also at moments become a little too dark and serious with numerous plot lines threading in that might be confusing for younger audience members. However, the songs by Eamonn O’Dwyer have a lovely playful quality about them that works really well within the story.

But it is the visuals that really make this production stand out, with plenty of clever tricks to make it seem as though roses come out of books and magic appearing out of fingers to enchant children. Elsewhere,David Farley’s suitably Scandinavian styled set is really effective and adaptable to set the numerous scene changes – particularly during the excitingly choreographed ship scenes. Ella Wahlsrom’s dramatic sound design adds thrills – such as when the Snow Queen first appears and the lighting design by Charlie Morgan Jones is wonderfully captures the spirit of each scene.

Despite perhaps a slight lull in energy and towards the end of the first half, The Snow Queen is a wonderfully magical adventure that captures the imagination beautifully.

By Emma Clarendon

The Snow Queen continues to play at the Rose Theatre until the 5th January.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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