Spectacular, edgy, and heart-warming
I was in two minds about whether this production would be suitable for my somewhat sensitive six and a half year old as the programme information says it’s for age 7+. But she loves the story of The Snow Queen, so I thought we’d take a risk. I’m glad we did. This is the Pegasus’ first go at an in-house Christmas production, with director Jonathan Lloyd.
I think I need to say straight off: the show is a bit edgy, and my daughter grasped my hand fairly tightly at times. The production is divided into seven ‘stories’ or parts, the first giving us the background to the story – an evil dwarf crafts a mirror which reflects wickedness. I found it a little unsettling when the dwarf’s helpers turned the mirror on the audience and crowed at the sins and wickedness they saw there. My daughter found it hard to understand what was happening, so she didn’t seem unduly alarmed.
As the mirror falls out of his hands and – slow motion style – smashes into a zillion pieces, we, the audience, got our first taste of the spectacular use of visuals that was to punctuate the play. I’m a fan of sumptuous sets, so I was interested to see whether they could pull it off with an economical (yet ingenious) use of props. The visual effects, both lighting and projections, however, more than made up for the sparse set; in fact they were put to full effect with instantaneous, and utterly transformational, scene changes.
The cast was only four performers who, with the exception of Gerda, played a variety of roles. The acting was strong from each of them, and in particular I was impressed with Oliver Wellington as Kai, who was very convincing throughout.
The whole production was fast-paced and tight. This had a drawback however: miss a word or two and it may be hard to follow, especially as the props themselves don’t give much away. In particular, my daughter found it tricky to follow a key plot turn – when Kai spots a sledge (a.k.a. dome shaped climbing frame) to hitch a ride on, and jumps on, only to find he is being carried away by the Snow Queen.
The first half finishes with Gerda running and running after Kai. After a couple of minutes of her running on the spot towards the audience (very convincingly, I might add,) the other cast members join her and hint that it might be a good time for us to ‘stretch our legs’ and ‘come back in about 15 minutes’. It was a lovely touch.
In the second half, we watched another slightly alarming scene, where the coachman has his throat slit, and blood ribbons from the wound. It’s over in the blink of an eye, however, and I’m not sure my daughter noticed.
On the whole, the play works very well for both adults and children, though I think the age recommendation of 7 is probably about right. The more edgy aspects of the play are dealt with quickly, so I don’t think it is too frightening for the younger members of the audience. The visuals really are spectacular. The highlights were the Northern Lights and the Snow Queen’s mirrored palace. The story itself was an excellent choice: a moving tale of friendship and challenge, and they handled it both sensitively and innovatively. Well done, Pegasus!
Morrigan age 6: "The best bit was near the end when this really funny man climbed up the tree to be the crow and they said that the crow was dead and he looked embarrassed. Then he pretended to be the grandmother who they said wasn't dead and he looked very relieved. It was very funny."