Review by Seamus Kelly
The Snow Queen presented, by Wrongsemble at the Waterside Arts Centre in sale was a big hit with the young people in the audience and the accompanying adults.
The central character in the story is a young girl called Lumi, played with great style by Amy Tara. Lumi is a child who always asks questions, it is suggested that her every sentence ends with a question mark. Lumi is worried about the world; she is worried about the planet warming and that it hasn’t snowed for years, and she decides to become an activist. Her yellow anorak and pigtails are surely a nod to Greta Thunberg.
She asks her teacher about it and the teacher changes subjects and doesn’t answer. She asks her Mum what she can do, and her Mum is happy to try to answer and suggests she write to The Snow Queen who controls the weather.
The Snow Queen, otherwise known as Madge, nterpreted by a super-camp Richard Priestley, doesn’t bother reading or replying to letters, as she is far too busy being fabulous and majestic. An increasingly frustrated Lumi writes again, and again, and again and gets no response.
There is only one thing for it so Lumi sets off to find the Snow Queen to ask her to fix the weather. Along the way Lumi meets a tortoise called Horton who needs to learn about recycling and rescuing waste, a Polar bear called Flash (dressed rather like a member of East17) who has far too many electricity hungry devices, plays music too loud and has far too many lights switched on. Flash needs to learn to consume less.
After helping both to improve their ways Lumi meets Oops who works at the North Pole
Distribution Centre, a place where happy toy making elves have been superseded by hard driven employees sending out lots of parcels that people don’t really need. A uniform reminiscent of UPS is another visual gag aimed mainly at the adults in the audience. Oops is persuaded to change and resigns from the distribution centre to help Lumi find the Snow w Queen is not keen to help as it was not her fault that the World is being warmed.
By demonstrating how she has helped people to change, and that “Small changes make a big difference, and young voices speak the loudest truth”, Lumi has made a positive impression on the Snow queen and in the end she does of course bring snow.
This musical retelling of the Snow Queen, written and directed by Elvi Piper, addressed some important and complex issues around climate change and over consumption. Of necessary there has to be some simplification and a happy ending in a production aimed at a young audience so for me there are two main questions:
Did The Snow Queen help to get some useful messaging across young children, and is this an entertaining and well produced show? I’m confident to say yes to both.
The three actors were on stage throughout the whole production apart from quick costume changes by Molly Grace Cutler who showed great versatility as the teacher and Mum, as well as the three characters that Lumi meets on the way to see the Snow Queen, plus singing,
Horton / Oops / Flash Molly Grace Cutler
Snow Queen (Madge) Richard Priestley
Lumi Amy Tara
Director / Writer Elvi Piper
Designer Antony Jones
Creative Producer Chemeana Lacey
Musical Director/Composer Rosie Fox
Stage Manager Heather Newsham
Lighting Design Alastair Fox
Associate Artist Edith Kirkwood