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Snow White review at Cambridge Junction – ‘warm, family-friendly fairytale with a smart twist’

Richard de Winter, Alex Murdoch, Jodie Davey, Joey Hickman and Abayomi Oniyide in Snow White at Cambridge Junction. Photo: Claire Haigh]

Smartly shifting the focus of the familiar fairytale, New International Encounter’s Snow White unfolds as a playful but unusually nuanced storytelling session. This is the company’s fourth Christmas show for Cambridge Junction, and it’s an undeniably slick piece, packed with humour, emotion, and exquisitely-timed nods to the audience, all set to Joey Hickman’s dreamily atmospheric live score.

Here, Jodie Davey’s plucky but stifled Snow White yearns to escape her overbearing, infantilising stepmother’s shadow, fleeing into the forest and stumbling into a numerically-challenged collective of radical vegans. Abayomi Oniyide struggles with his conscience as an in-over-his-head gamekeeper who never stops looking for the woman he abandoned in the woods.

Stefanie Mueller in Snow White at Cambridge Junction. Photo: Claire Haigh
Stefanie Mueller in Snow White at Cambridge Junction. Photo: Claire Haigh

Unexpectedly, though, it’s Stefanie Mueller’s wonderfully complex Wicked Stepmother who provides the story’s heart, humanising the homicidally vain aristocrat with a real sense of emotional frailty. The isolation of her cold and austere palace couldn’t be further from the blanket-strewn cosiness of Snow’s woodland yurt.

The set – also by Mueller – is simple but effective, turning a few sliding stands of twigs, some yarn, and a floor length mirror frame into a richly realised, storybook world.

Director Alex Byrne invests it all with energy and movement. Props descend from the rafters and performers scramble through the audience, obliterating the boundaries of the already-intimate staging. If the charm starts to wear just a little thin during a padded and overly repetitive second half, it all ends on a well-earned note of pure, redemptive warmth.

Verdict
Cleverly developed characters add a smart twist to this warm, family-friendly fairytale

Production

Production
Snow White
Venue
Cambridge Junction
City
Cambridge
Starts
December 5, 2018
Ends
December 31, 2018
Press night
December 6
Authors
Rina Vergano (story development), devised by the Company
Composer
Joey Hickman, Elliot Davis
Director
Alex Byrne
Musical director
Joey Hickman
Design
Stefanie Mueller
Lighting
Trui Malten
Technical
Kasia Zaremba-Byrne (movement director)
Production manager
Ash Day
Cast includes
Jodie Davey, Joey Hickman, Stefanie Mueller, Alex Murdoch, Abayomi Oniyide, Richard de Winter
Producer
New International Encounters, Cambridge Junction, and Tobacco Factory Theatres
Running time
2hrs 15mins