MARKING its new collaboration with the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Nottingham, the Nuffield on the Southampton University campus commissioned award-winning television comedy scriptwriter Georgia Pritchett to adapt Hans Christian Andersen’s famous story The Snow Queen as a Christmas show with a different slant.
And that she has done.
The multi-talented eight-strong cast take the audience on a journey through other familiar folk tales on Gerda’s quest to the frozen north, all accompanied by original music composed by Dougal Irvine.
I saw the show during previews, three days before the official opening, and changes might have been made in the interim, but on Saturday afternoon the Snow Queen was too frightening for the younger members of the audience, and the music so loud that the lyrics were overpowered. It is a very clever re-working of the story, but perhaps the messages – you can’t force friendship, you must let bad things go, etc – were too heavily underlined.
There were moments of sheer magic, and when Rob Castell arrived as Rudolph there was an audible sigh of pleasure from auditorium.
Ti Green’s clever and effective set highlighted the chill in shards of light and glass, all ready for Natasha Jayetileke’s Snow Queen to weave her evil magic.
Jessie Hart, making her professional debut, was properly possessive and grumpy as Gerda, helped on her journey by the delightful Jack Shalloo as the Raven, and Jos Slovick captured the mood changes required for Kai.
Members of the ensemble made cameo appearances as Snow White, Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood and more, and the transformation of the Snow Queen should have laid the children’s disquiet to rest – but it was a long time coming.
The Snow Queen will be seen at the Nottingham Theatre next year, when the Nuffield will have Merlin, currently on stage at the Royal and Derngate.
The Snow Queen is in Southampton until Sunday 4th January.
Photographs by Mark Douett