Whether in direct contrast to Disney’s Frozen or just because it’s what Creation does best, this year’s festive offering of Hans Christian Anderson’s epic tale The Snow Queen, is even more anarchic than usual.
The fairly simple story of Gerda (Annabelle Terry is a joy to watch) rescuing her best friend Kai (the utterly believable and multi-tasking Bart Lambert) from the icy clutches of the Snow Queen (the suitably evil Natasha Rickman), has been given the full Creation treatment.
Never one to stick to the story-line when it can be embellished or reexamined, Hans Christian Anderson’s vessel is used to examine many a modern day dilemma; from texting and predators to loneliness, vulnerability, bullying, bad parenting, hallucinatory drugs, weed, sexual denomination, transgenderism, wealth, class, materialism, belonging…..the list goes on.
Creation does what Creation wants, and nowhere is this more evident than in The Snow Queen.
Is is more far out than normal? Yes. Do we always know what is going on as the flowers sing or the crows talk? No. But in true Creation style the story flows through, always present despite the twists, turns and tangents that the wonderful cast embark on, under the flamboyant direction of Gari Jones.
READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH THE CAST HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/enter-the-frozen-wastes-of-lapland-in-creations-christmas-show-the-snow-queen-at-the-north-wall/
Enriched by some ambitious costumes, original music and songs (Gareth Jones), choreography (Cydney Uffindell-Phillips) and acting, the mystery deepens as Gerda’s journey becomes as metaphorical as literal.
But then Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Mary Poppins are hardly straight forward stories, and as I watched the Creation magic unfurl I wondered whether we are losing our innate ability to fantasise and use our imagination? Oxford’s favourite theatre company definitely provides the antidote to that, as we slowly offer up our cynicism and misgivings, and surrender ourselves to Gerda’s voyage and its eddying swirls in Creation’s visionary and modern depiction.
If rather perplexed in the first half, by the second everything comes together, as we ride ever onwards with Gerda, on her quest to rescue Kai from the evil clutches of his new surrogate mother, fighting feral robbers, strange animals, some bickering aristos and finally the powers of the Snow Queen, to claim her friend Kai back.
The icy depths of the evil queen’s kingdom pans out perfectly as a Christmas production, the cast playing a dizzying myriad of characters, as the young cast members encourage them on with some stellar performances.
Set in the round, literally, on a circular stage on the ground floor of The North Wall Theatre, the balcony seats upstairs can be quite restrictive, as some of the action happens underneath you, so try to choose seats downstairs.
Overall though, despite my two teenage girls being slightly bewildered by the development and situations Gerda finds herself in, they thoroughly enjoyed the entire performance, recognising the struggles that Gerda embarks on to grow up, be loyal and work out what’s important in life with so many distractions and alternatives on offer.
They understood that Creation’s emphasis here is on the value and relevance of love, family and friendship, something we all recognise and need, especially at this time of year.
Weird and wild maybe, but in Creation’s capable hands, always wonderful.
The Snow Queen, North Wall, until Jan 5. 01865 766266