The Snow Queen - Review

“All you need is your heart”

Bristol Old Vic’s production of The Snow Queen is a magical and modern rendition of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale.

Gerda and Kai live next door to each other. They are very close friends, delighting in each other’s company, until Kai is pierced with a magical shard which causes him to see the worst in everything. When Kai disappears, Gerda vows to find him and bring him home.

Scripted by Vivienne Franzmann and directed by Lee Lyford, this is a modern rendering of one of the few traditional folk tales where girl rescues boy. Franzmann steps away from the usual gender-stereotypes of fairy tales into creating characters that are much more gender-fluid and relevant to C21st audiences. Both main characters are complex and appealing. Kai (Steven Roberts) rejects his father’s notions of masculinity which he attempts to impose on his son. Kai forges his own path. Gerda (Emily Burnett), the hero, is at once crippled by fear, at other times the fearless warrior. The layers to the characters make for interesting viewing and is a welcome change from hackneyed portrayals of fairy tale characters. There are strong performances from Burnett and Roberts. Miltos Yerolemolou playing the wacky Flower Witch (amongst other roles) turns in an enjoyable performance.

The puppetry and visuals are entrancing. The snow queen is a Burtonesque, menacing and imposing presence, delighting children whilst scaring adults. The set design, combined with the visuals, transports the audience to the different worlds within the fairy tale. The costumes are superb - fantastical and colourful creations which allow the actors to multirole effectively.

Gwyneth Herbert’s catchy alliterative, comic songs and parody of The Smiths combines with Serbian folk music played by Faith i Branko to provide a multi-textured audio backdrop against which the plot unfolds.

This is a magical performance which warms hearts in winter.

(c) Samantha Coughlan December 2016

Bristol Old Vic
2nd December 2016 - 15th January 2017

Emily Burnett
Jessica Hayles
Gwyneth Herbert
Joanna Holden
Zara Ramm
Faith i Branko Ristic
Steven Roberts
Dylan Wood
Miltos Yerolemou

Lee Lyford
Vivienne Franzmann
Tom Rogers
Gwyneth Herbert
Richard Howell
Will Duke - Projection Designer
Timothy X Atack - Sound Designer
Marc Parrett - Puppetry Director and Designer
Jennie Falconer - Costume Superviser
John Sandeman - Fight Director
Alexandra Moxon - Assistant Director
Gemma Thomas - Stage Manager
Rachel Brown - Deputy Stage Manager
Katie Barrett - Assistant Stage Manager

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