IF you want the perfect alternative Christmas show, look no further than Bristol’s Tobacco Factory, where a wonderful new version of Snow White is on stage until 19th January.
Adapted by Mike Tweddle and the company, and directed by Alex Byrne, it manages that gargantuan challenge of being woke, politically aware, plant-based and very, very funny, bringing its clear and important messages to the audience with an astonishing lightness of touch.
All that and a six-strong cast of prodigiously talented actor musicians telling a familiar story on a colourfully effective and simple set, with great songs, strong characters, running jokes and, of course, the requisite audience participation … and what might well turn out to be the best baddie of the year.
Stefanie Mueller (who also designed the show) takes a gleefully inventive delight in her queen/stepmother role, showing enormous versatility in her efforts to remain “the fairest in the land” and making masterful use of the legendary mirror.
When questioned, it answers with all the rest of the cast in ensemble mode.
Their singing, led by MD Joey Hickman, is exceptional in its variety, musicality and chutzpah. Jodie Davey in the title role manages to be good without being goody-goody, delighting all she meets, from the under game-keeper (Abayomi Oniyide) to her new vegan forester friends (Alex Murdoch, Richard De Winter and Hickman).
This is the Tobacco Factory at its very best, a venue that has nurtured its own community, reaching out into the wider theatre-loving world while retaining an intimacy and ownership that should see it through the hardest times.
This Snow White is a perfect antidote to the ridiculous posturing and duplicitous fabrications of politicians, providing a generous sprinkling of much-needed hope, love and fun to a dark time.
The show is a co-production with New International Encounter, Tobacco Factory Theatres and Cambridge Junction.
Go and see it if you possibly can. It’s well worth the journey.
Photographs by Mark Dawson Photography