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The Snow Queen review at Polka Theatre, London – ‘an ode to storytelling’

Tigger Blaizem George Wigzell and Isabella Chiam in The Snow Queen at the Polka Theatre, London. Photo: Bronwen Sharp Tigger Blaize, George Wigzell and Isabella Chiam in The Snow Queen at the Polka Theatre, London. Photo: Bronwen Sharp

Mike Kenny’s version of The Snow Queen was written long before Frozen turned the story into a sugar-coated sibling yarn. One of the most appealing things about the Polka Theatre staging is the chance to see a more faithful version of the Hans Christian Andersen original.

Kenny emphasises the adolescent nature of Kai’s capture by The Snow Queen. His mood changes after a fragment of broken mirror lands in his heart and he falls in with a bad crowd; his subsequent luring to the Queen’s palace is pure Freud.

But it’s Gerda who comes to the rescue and who carries the bulk of the show. Isabella Chiam rises to the task as she engages with the variety of robbers, flowers and birds who help her along the way. All are brought energetically to life by director Roman Stefanski, his production playing out on Nettie Scriven’s neat storybook set. Inventive puppetry and projections help to conjure the Queen herself – she may have a heart of ice but has the head of a colander. There’s an enjoyably meta element as the ensemble variously complain about their casting or celebrate their turn in the spotlight.

One area that slightly disappoints is the music, with the opportunity for songs largely passed up and Julian Butler’s soundscape feeling altogether too generic for this otherwise colourful staging.

The Snow Queen makes for quality Christmas family entertainment. The production – which starts and ends in the children’s attic playroom – is an ode to storytelling itself, making it a fitting festive choice for a venue with an impressive track record of bringing these timeless tales to young theatregoers.

 

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Verdict
Inventively staged adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story for a young audience
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