Adapted by Charles Way from the story by Hans Christian Andersen
A Storyhouse Originals production
Dec 13, 2022-Jan 15, 2023; 2 hrs
This is not a pantomime – so none of that Oh, yes it is! business, if you don't mind. Regardless of which, this Christmas offering from Storyhouse is heart-warmingly good, despite the chilly title.
The adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's well-loved tale by Charles Way and director Hannah Noone is imaginative, funny and meaningful, with pleasing attention to detail throughout.
The show is an exploration of good and evil of course, in which the Snow Queen (Lucy Tuck), out of vanity, commissions a mirror so she can admire herself. The mirror shatters while being lifted to the heavens and when a piece falls to earth and into the eye of an unwitting victim, he becomes insensitive, vain and arrogant. As such, Cei (Taona Matope), comes under the thrall of the Snow Queen, who sets him to repair the mirror; a task that will consume his life. The play then shows how his lifeling pal Gerda (Rosemarie Akwafo), sets out on a quest through spring, summer and autumn to find Cei and restore him to normality and out of the cold-hearted queen's clutches.
This story might sound a bit serious as Christmas entertainment, but Hannah Noone's direction is adventurous, with plenty to hold the attention, and a lightness of touch in the script and a barrel load of fun along the way. It's as if the supporting cast members – Will Kirk, Kate Malyon, Tom Richardson, Chloe Wade and Flo Wilson – were given licence to have impish fun at the expense of Gerda as she makes her journey. They even try to involve the audience in the dance-off competition to establish who will be the Queen of Autumn – though sadly last night no one in the stalls was brave enough to get up on stage and show some moves...
There is more to this play though. The original fairy tale has its roots in Scandinavian lore and Christian teaching, with good triumphant over evil just as the light of spring and summer overcome the dark days of winter – despite the seemingly all-encompassing power of a cruel cold snap, as the Britsh weather can currently attest...
While this production is not religious, the redeeming power of Gerda’s persistent, innocent love saves the day: a fitting message for the Christmas period.
It might be easier to do a more traditional pantomime, but this is just as enjoyable and much more thought-provoking. Congratulations to Storyhouse on a great night’s seasonal entertainment.
Tickets and Information here