Although the weather may have had an impact on the number of people venturing outside of an evening, at least it makes Stuart Paterson’s magical Christmas show The Snow Queen topical (even if some of the lines about ‘never-ending winters’ make the adults in the audience groan…)
Directed by Mark Thomson, The Snow Queen is more children’s theatre than pantomime, transforming The Lyceum into a land of make-believe and wonder for all ages. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale, the piece follows the adventures of brave Gerda (Helen Mackay) as she travels to free her friend Kay (Mark Prendergast) from the clutches of the evil Snow Queen (Allison McKenzie), who has captured the boy by piercing his heart with a shard from her shattered mirror in an attempt to usher in a new, eternal ice age.
As she sets out from the home she shares with Kay and her grandmother (Julie Duncanson), Gerda is aided and abetted by talking ravens, powerful sun magicians and the spectres of villagers buried beneath the ice; with her every step followed by the Queen’s evil henchman, Cobweb Spider (Robin Laing).
The ensemble cast all put in some enjoyable and expressive performances, with most doubling – or even tripling – their roles to create the cast of humans and enchanted creatures. Prendergast is particularly strong as the hapless Kay, also putting in likeable turns as one of the talking ravens and as a camp robber, a role which allows him to demonstrate his natural comic timing.
Grant O’Rourke also stands out, with his appearances as a treasure-obsessed king, a muscle-bound dimwit and a scaredy-cat polar bear being the comic highlights of the whole piece. And Laing as Cobweb is also a delight, hopping from leg to leg and conniving slimingly in his Tim Burton-esque costume and facepaint.
Paterson’s script and Thomson’s direction pull this classic tale along in a well-paced couple of hours of adventure and magic, filled with beautiful set design, mysterious billowing smoke and gently falling snow: more than enough to melt even the frostiest of hearts in the audience.
With its colourful cast of characters, booing opportunities aplenty and a sense of wonder which suits the holiday season perfectly, The Snow Queen is one of the Lyceum’s most charming Christmas shows yet and well worth pulling on your wellies and breaking out the huskies to go and see.
The Snow Queen runs until 30 December. Ticket information is available on the Lyceum website.