If you long for snow and ice at this festive time of year, a trip to The Snow Queen will be a lovely way of making sure you get something of a white Christmas.
This entertaining family show is on at Royal & Derngate in Northampton and takes as its inspiration Hans Christian Andersen’s tale The Snow Queen. Yes, it’s the same inspirational source as the ever-popular Frozen but it is very much its own show.
It’s the story of a tragic queen whose beloved son is stolen away by a nasty ogre.
Heartbroken, she gradually becomes colder and more isolated until she is numb of emotion, vengeful and living in an ice palace built of her own frozen tears. Brilliantly played by Caroline Head, the Queen is a villain, but one we have to have some sympathy for.
When she kidnaps young Kai for her own desperate, scheming reasons, Kai’s best friend Gerda has to summon up her courage to go and rescue him. On the way she meets a cheeky Raven and a host of fairy tale characters which are great fun and give a little twist on the usual versions of the traditional tales.
For example, who would have thought that Red Riding Hood would grow up to be such an aggressive and bloodthirsty woman. Then again if your gran is eaten by a wolf, it changes a person.
More thought-provoking reflections on how fairy tale characters got on after the happy-ever-after ending include an encounter with Snow White and Prince Charming which was very funny.
The unfortunate pair it turns out are not happily married at all.
She loves going out to big events and shopping and he just wants to spend time with his friends and riding horses. When you think about it, marrying someone shortly after they’ve woken up from a poisoning incident without finding out anything about the person is not a good foundation for a relationship.
All the characters are played by a cast of seven with Mairi Barclay, Angela Bain and Richard Pryal making an excellent job of changing from role to role. I especially loved the enthusiastic reindeer who wants to meet Father Christmas, the not-scary witch and the rather angry Red Riding Hood.
Tosin Olomowewe was a big hit as the mischievous raven and Mona Goodwin as Gerda and Jonny Weldon as Kai are the key to keeping us interested in the central story of friendship and a heroic quest.
Music, choreography and imaginative puppeteering are all part of the magic and the show’s ending is so sweet that it seemed to send everyone out with a big smile.
The Snow Queen is on at Royal & Derngate until Sunday, January 3, 2016.