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The Snow Queen – Brighton Open Air Theatre

Reviewer: Simon Topping

Writer: Hans Christian Anderson

Adaptor: Tatty Hennessy

Director: Lucy Jane Atkinson

Up in their attic together Greta’s brother, Kay, is mean and moody and won’t play games. It’s unusual behaviour Greta cannot explain, until she meets a cheeky, wise-cracking, talking crow who suggests he must have been snatched by The Snow Queen, and an imposter left in his place. With this revelation the two newly acquainted bedfellows make a pact to rescue Kay from the Queen’s evil clutches, with Crow agreeing to be Greta’s guide, for the price of some shiny treasure. With the deal made their adventures begin.

The Brighton Open Air Theatre’s adaptation of The Snow Queen is a witty and magical affair for all the young people in the audience. The pithy Crow is a firm favourite, shooting out jokes, ten a minute, such as, “What do you get when you cross a vampire with a snowman?” and a trilogy of zingers about “What’s a snowman’s favourite food?” With the awful, yet funny, punchlines producing reams of laughter from the kids and plenty of joyful groans from the adults.

The small cast of three actors skillfully weave the story as Greta continues on her journey. The Crow is excellently puppeteered and characterised perfectly by Douglas Rutter, who also plays Kay. As the Narrator and a series of characters the heroes come across in their escapades, Antonia Draper gets the chance to show off her range the most. The audience are treated to Draper’s renditions of a fabulously batty old woman singing “Potatoes”, an old time southern USA door to door salesman who entices the Crow to come with him with the promises of fame and fortune, The Snow Queen herself and a wonderfully funny Geordie ice skating bear. Drapers range is very charismatic and a joy to watch. Jade Kennedy, as Greta, also acts well, never letting the childlike wonder and optimism drop from her delightful performance.

The set of the show is beautifully crafted and marvelously multifunctional. The use of an old fashioned wooden ladder and a couple of dust busters to create a flying machine is very inventive and charms the crowd.

Thankfully the throng is, on the whole, not too badly affected by the elements this evening. Some young folk snuggle in sleeping bags to keep warm, which is a wise idea. The rain only makes the briefest of appearances and many grown-ups have a cup or two of the mulled wine on offer, to stave off the cold.

Hidden within the plot are plenty of worthwhile messages for children to absorb, especially in a year that would have been so disruptive and, at points, confusing or scary for them. The chief message is that bad things may happen and you might have been angry or upset with the world, that is unavoidable, but continue on, with positivity and the good times will reappear. Also, be kind, be brave, think about others less fortunate than yourself, do not be seduced by cheap fame and accept that life constantly changes.

This Christmas play is an uplifting watch, very well acted and beautifully produced, with plenty of giggles. A must see for all the family.

Runs to 24th December

Uplifting Funniness

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The Reviews Hub - South East

The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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