Review: THE SNOW QUEEN, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

The Snow Queen runs until 31 December

By: Nov. 25, 2023
Review: THE SNOW QUEEN, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Review: THE SNOW QUEEN, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

The Snow Queen at the Royal Lyceum Theatre is a Scottish reimagining of the classic fairy tale. Written by Morna Young and directed by Cora Bissett, this is a story about the friendship between Gerda and Kei and the battle to save Edinburgh from eternal winter.

Emily James' set design is absolutely breathtaking. Designed to look like an extension of the beautiful Lyceum Theatre, the use of the space and the projections for storytelling is wonderful. The story begins with the tale of how The Snow Queen came to be and her quest to put a stop to Spring once and for all. Her mission is to locate the five seeds of Spring and she only has one left to find.

Gerda (Rosie Graham) and Kei (Sebastian Lim-Seet) both live with their grandparents in Edinburgh, having both lost their parents. The pair do everything together and dream of having big adventures. Gerda is a keen gardener with a magic touch but The Snow Queen mistakes her talents for Kei's and inserts glass into his heart to control him and remove all that is good. The Snow Queen kidnaps Kei thinking she's found the fifth seed and then Gerda embarks on a quest to save her friend.

The scenes set in Edinburgh along with the language make this a unique and charming production. Unfortunately, it loses its way when it ventures into the fantastical. As delightful as Richard Conlon is as a sparkly unicorn, the gimmick quickly loses its appeal. The Snow Queen is at its best when it keeps the storytelling simple and the lacklustre attempts at creating magic make for a very long second Act. Some of the early scenes also prove to be a bit too scary for little ones.

Finn Anderson is the composer and sound designer for this play with music. The folk-style songs are a lovely accompaniment to the story and again work best in the Edinburgh scenes.

The Snow Queen is a bit of a mixed production, the performers are all excellent and it looks beautiful but the second Act is underwhelming. Overall, it seemed to go down well with audience members of all ages.