Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: THE SNOW QUEEN, Rose Theatre

Review: THE SNOW QUEEN, Rose Theatre

Review: THE SNOW QUEEN, Rose Theatre Kingston's Rose Theatre always goes all-out for their Christmas production. After last year's huge success with Hansel And Gretel, writer and director Ciaran McConville turns his hand to another Hans Christian Andersen tale with The Snow Queen.

Gerda lives in a quiet orphanage, feeling there is a different future lying in wait for her. She discovers that she is a Child of Magic, hidden from the evil Snow Queen, from whom she will be able to take the crown when she comes of age. She is also in love with her kindly neighbour Kai. When Kai is captured by the Snow Queen, Gerda embarks on a wild adventure to save him, meeting pirates, elves, a talking reindeer and evil trolls along the way.

Parisa Hahmir grows in stature as Gerda throughout the show. She is a strong and confident heroine, with a sweet singing voice. Jack Wolfe is charismatic as neighbour Kai; his introduction as a salesman for his father's terrible inventions is both funny and very natural.

In Andersen's story, the villains do not get their comeuppance, but here Helena Blackman's chilling Snow Queen is comprehensively defeated. Blackman is suitably unsettling in her calm and hard-hearted character, with strong vocals in her singing.

What always sets the Rose's Christmas production apart is the use of the copious talent of the Rose Youth Theatre. Press night saw the Blue Cast in action, with excellent performances from Millie Brownhill as the valiant Edda, Jacob Towey as the cheeky Sampo and Emily Porter as the curious Joy.

Particular mention must go to Oliver Hymans' puppet design and Yvonne Stone's puppet direction. Reindeer Bancu is a magical addition to the show, with brilliantly realistic movement and wonderful personality. Marnie Camping-Harris and Tom Greig operate his body with aplomb and Francis Redfern is outstanding as Bancu's head and voice; the friendly Welsh lilt and easy joking manner really brings the gentle reindeer to life.

Anderson's original story was written as a 'tale in seven stories'. McConville has streamlined this somewhat, but there is still too much going on, particularly in the first half. There are separate stories being told for several different characters. It is sometimes hard to keep track and there are often too many people on stage, which is distracting. Despite all this content, the pace also feels a little slow. The second half is much more cohesive, with enough excitement and adventure to flow very well.

On press night there were some sound issues, meaning it was hard to hear some actors and general sound levels were too low. However, the big strength of the production is that it looks magnificent. David Fairley's set design has a distinctly Scandi feel, with lots of bare wood; dual staircases and several balconies make the most of the height of the Rose. Charlie Morgan Jones' spectacular lighting is atmospheric and dramatic, with beautiful use of smoke and lights to recreate the Northern Lights, as well as a magical feel from Gerda and the Snow Queen's spells.

There is also some very clever design; huge sheets are gathered and pulled across the stage to illustrate giant icicles and ice sheets in the Snow Queen's palace. White, elasticated fabric is used to great effect, pulled quickly over actors' heads and bodies to starkly show when they have been frozen. A pirate ship is deftly recreated with sheets, flags and judicious use of ropes.

Although not as strong as last year's show, there are some wonderful aspects to this production. There are some very strong performances and the appearance of Bancu alone is worth the ticket.

The Snow Queen is at the Rose Theatre until 5 January 2020

Photo Credit: Rose Theatre

Théatre Lapis to Present Concert of GALAXY TRAIN at The Other Palace in March Photo
Théatre Lapis will present a concert version of a new musical 'Galaxy Train', which runs between the 24th and 26h March 2023 at The Other Palace Theatre Studio. The musical was created by director Yojiro Ichikawa (My Neighbour Totoro, Urinetown, Pearl and Dagger) and composer-lyricist Eden Tredwell (The Last Nativity, Pearl and Dagger), based on the beloved 1927 Japanese novel 'Night on the Galactic Railroad' by Kenji Miyazawa. 

Award-Winning US Playwrights Make UK Debut In SCRITCHES at The Glory This Month Photo
Brooklyn Rep, hot off the cult-hit All the Fraudulent Horse Girls, has announced their next theatrical happening: Scritches! Two evenings of new short plays happening at The Glory  February 19-20th with doors at 19:00 and shows at 19:30. 

Review: TANNHÄUSER, Royal Opera House Photo
A confident revival of a production unsure of its footing

Review: PEEPING TOM: TRIPTYCH, Barbican Theatre Photo
Belgian dance company Peeping Tom verily put the 'trip' into Triptych, a brilliantly bizarre neo-noir dance trilogy full of deliciously dark delights.

From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)

Vicky Featherstone to Step Down as Artistic Director of the Royal CourtVicky Featherstone to Step Down as Artistic Director of the Royal Court
February 3, 2023

Vicky Featherstone has announced she will step down later this year when the search for a new Artistic Director is complete and once they have taken up post. 

Photos: See Newly Released Production Images of SYLVIA at The Old Vic TheatrePhotos: See Newly Released Production Images of SYLVIA at The Old Vic Theatre
February 3, 2023

Directed and choreographed by Kate Prince and starring Beverley Knight as Emmeline Pankhurst and with Sharon Rose as Sylvia Pankhurst, Sylvia will run for a further week, closing on 08 April 2023. Check out the new productions photos here.

Pentabus Launch Their Spring/Summer SeasonPentabus Launch Their Spring/Summer Season
February 3, 2023

Pentabus are launching their Spring/Summer season which features one new commission, two new Digital theatre premieres, two new Writers-in-Residence and the return of Pentabus Young Writers live production with eight brilliant new plays.

David Suchet's POIROT AND MORE, A RETROSPECTIVE Will Come to Hampstead Theatre in MarchDavid Suchet's POIROT AND MORE, A RETROSPECTIVE Will Come to Hampstead Theatre in March
February 3, 2023

David Suchet is to bring his show Poirot and More, a Retrospective to Hampstead Theatre in support of the London venue following its 100% Arts Council England funding cut.

Now on Sale: ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST at Lyric HammersmithNow on Sale: ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST at Lyric Hammersmith
February 3, 2023

Tickets from £18 for Accidental Death Of An Anarchist. An Anarchist has fallen to his death from a police station window. But did he jump or was he thrown?