Muddy reviews: The Snow Queen, Bristol Old Vic
This Christmas show, an original take on the famous Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, will take you to the dark side but you’ll come out of the theatre feeling optimistic and uplifted (well, we did).
The story of The Snow Queen starts in the village of the Golden Roses – a wonderfully surreal set like a Frida Kahlo headress – where the feisty Gerda and her best friend Kai (who prefers to dance rather than play football) live happily enough, larking around and trading insults (according to Gerda, Kai’s like ‘all the farts in a fart factory’ a line that made the kids roar). Then one by one, the village children start to disappear, and then suddenly Kai himself isn’t there…
Turns out that an army of goblins with pointy ears and Fascistic trench coats have been stealing children and taking them to the Snow Queen’s palace. There, the eccentric Dr Boffin stores them in ice ready for the evil Snow Queen to feed off their tantrums and outbursts (some of which sounded depressingly familiar).
The Snow Queen herself starts off as a scary shadow but the reality is even more frightening. A cross between an alien, Miss Haversham and a skeleton; there’s no need to tell us she’s got no heart, we can see right through her rib cage to see the void.
While Dr Boffin and her assistant wait for the tiny shard of the glass made from the ‘mirror of opposites’ to reach Kai’s love-filled heart and turn it bad, ready for the Queen to gorge, Gerda sets out on her quest to find him. En route, she meets the hilariously camp Flower Witch who gives her memory-erasing muffins so that she’ll stay and keep him company and Anton, an apathetic reindeer, with some witty songs along the way.
This is a show that celebrates difference, bravery and friendship, with a witty script and some standout performances. But it may not be the show for younger kids (they recommend 7+). Even my 13-year-olds went a bit wild-eyed in places. But everyone else will probably be thrilled – and chilled – in equal measure.
The Snow Queen is on at the Bristol Old Vic until Sun 15 Jan 2017.
Bristol Old Vic, King Street, Bristol, BS1 4EDTel 0117 987 7877. bristololdvic.org.uk