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Snow Child review at Deptford’s Albany – ‘strong and engaging’

The cast of Snow Child. Photo: Brian Slater The cast of Snow Child. Photo: Brian Slater

Not to be confused with a similarly-named show opening at the Unicorn Theatre next month, this charming and intelligent three-hander retells a Russian folk story about a childless couple. They build a snow child (as opposed to a snowman) and, surprise surprise, she comes to life. It is a very evocative piece in which Kate Bunce’s upturned besoms suggest the forest with a hint of gothic fan vaulting. And of course we get plenty of magical snow.

Emma Reeve’s witty script is timeless and ubiquitous, as Mark Pearce and Paula James, as the parents, try to persuade their wayward but much-loved daughter to conform. Then, both versatile, they morph into two very recognisable “perfect” children who come visiting. James also provides a rather good fox and Pearce a bear, among other roles.

Oliver Birch’s songs, which use both harmony and counterpoint, are warm and lyrical. James and Pearce play a sort of duet continuo on guitar and mandolin from the edge of the playing area, while Mei Mac is centre stage too, that is rather effective.

Mei Mac is very appealing as the feisty Snow Child, clad first in a weary gauze dress like a melting snowflake over which a beautiful red coat is popped when she becomes human. Mac – her eyes flashing in continual communication with her young audience – is both childlike and ethereally assertive.

As fine, thoughtful theatre which really engages young children, this attractive piece hits all the buttons.

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Verdict
Strong, engaging theatre for ages 3+
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