The Snow Queen, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Review
The Snow Queen is one of the supreme midwinter children's stories, made all the better by Mother Nature breathing the perfect icy white setting over Edinburgh, creating an enchanting backdrop for the tale of an evil woman, an innocent boy betrayed by a slice of hardness in his heart and a speck of glass blinding him to good, and of the fearless little girl determined to rescue him.
Stuart Paterson’s 1980s version of Hans Christian Andersen’s wonderful tale brilliantly portrays how the natural world is thrown out of kilter by humanities heartless cruelty, but lacks the sharp pain of the storytelling depths of the original; missing out its underlying pulse of splendor, lyricism and verse.
Thomson directs with vigour, making the most of Paterson’s panto-esque moments, usually lacking in the Lyceum’s Christmas shows, that the audience of eagerly entranced children jolly boo hissed at just short of the irritation mark. The cast of eleven attack the cartoon-esque approach with heartiness, creating many moments of high octane drama and stage activity, effortlessly taking full advantage of Ken Harrison’s stunning set design of glass particles, ice and mosaic furniture.
The production’s strength lies in the light-hearted scenes which are played for laughs, a highlight being Mark Prendergast’s Russian thief Twitch, who sent every adult into fits of laughter with his camp persona in the opening of the second act.
However, Thomson’s piece weakens in the scenes requiring real drama and poetry, which is never fully released by the cast who energetically retain a sense of urgency in every scene but results in a Snow Queen with no moral weight or resonance. Allison McKenzie gives the role a valiant attempt and looks exquisite, but unfortunately the title characters scenes are the most forgetful.
Despite the lack of depth, this is an enchanting production full of surprises that’ll ensure the whole family will leave the auditorium with a smile on their face after enjoying a good family show and a determined mindset to embrace the elements.
Show runs until 31December