An avenging queen, an abduction and a rescue mission spiced with flashes of enlightenment and swoops into despair – in some respects Hans Christian Andersen’s chilly odyssey lends itself to mystical Indian reworking. In so doing, Chandrasekhar’s stage adaptation for over-sevens renames the juvenile leads Gowri and Kumar and has them cross the subcontinent. Thus the frozen queendom is a Himalayan destination, garlanded with colour and heat by way of Bollywood and Jaipur.
Neatly-realised design and lighting give visual expression to the warmth of the children’s relationship riven by the icy intellect of the Snow Queen’s domain. Downstage is bathed in sunlight, and the children sitting on the floor dip their feet into the Indian Ocean. Upstage, up a snowy staircase, is the ice palace, where cold blue light picks out the crystals on the Queen’s robes. Ash Mukherjee’s choreography, coupled with composer Arun Ghosh’s irresistible Mumbai hubbub and big, bad Bollywood dance numbers, also add heat and light. Strong comic performances from Nimmi Harasgama as a power-crazed goddess and Asif Khan as a bonkers crow help justify the relocation of this fairytale to more southerly climes, but you miss the bone-chilling Scandinavian darkness of Andersen’s Sneedronningen, if only because it’s a Christmas classic.
Unicorn Theatre, London, November 23-January 8
- Hans Christian Andersen, adapted by Anupama Chandrasekhar
- Rosamunde Hutt
- Unicorn Theatre
- Cast includes
- Amaka Okafor, Ashley Kumar, Poojar Ghai, Nimmi Harasgama
- Running time