One of Hans Christian Anderson’s best known stories has been given a bit of an update for Christmas 2019, and it just sparkles! The Old Rep theatre in Birmingham is always known for the high quality of its seasonal offering, and this year, working in conjunction with the Birmingham Ormiston Academy, it has created a Snow Queen that is both funny and sad, and has a lot to say about the lack of tolerance for our neighbours that most would recognise in 2019.
Karen is celebrating her 13th birthday, and it is a wonderful occasion, but lovely kind Karen suddenly turns into a nasty adult who no longer has tolerance for anyone who might be a little bit different, particularly her sister Gerda’s best friend Kai. Kai is soon to turn 13 himself, but is determined not to change in the way others do. This pleases Gerda but places Kai in grave danger. The changes are the will of The Snow Queen who detests the idea that anyone could be happy in life, and uses splinters of broken mirrors to change their view of life. She is aided by her trusty Goblin Hader, but Gerda is determined to rescue her friend. Can love and friendship win out over hate and hurt?
The Snow Queen is beautifully staged, really creating the land of ice and snow. I loved the use of the mirror and animation to show Gerda’s journey as she travels to the furthest North Pole to rescue Kai. And a rather amazing motorbike scene made most of the audience gasp in surprise and delight.
The cast is a lovely mixture of professionals and students from the Birmingham Ormiston Academy. The Snow Queen herself is wonderfully played by Letitia Hector, she is beautiful and commands the stage with a pretty fabulous voice and a costume to die for. She is aided wonderfully by the very funny Charlie Keeble as Hader, especially during the song that pays lip service to Abba and Ikea (I’m definitely not a goblin!). Kai and Gerda (Tom Sturgess and Christina Harris) are just lovely and have a fabulous warm chemistry, whilst I personally loved Alexandra Daszeski who as well as playing Karen, also played Mormor and Ida and made each of them different and recognisable.
The Snow Queen offers sparkle and shine in abundance, think Frozen but with much better costumes.
THE SNOW QUEEN
End: Monday 30 December 2019