The Snow Queen (Nuffield Theatre)
Better stick to panto as The Snow Queen provides very little for families this Christmas.
Oh Nuffield. You used to provide the best alternative to the run of the mill pantomimes in Hampshire. I only saw a preview, but I would like to suggest that the cast work on their projection. It was difficult to hear them at times, and their singing was drowned out by the onstage band. Otherwise I can't see where else the cast can improve on a rather half-hearted script.
Jessie Hart plays our heroine, Greta. She and Kai (Jos Slovick) are the best of friends. So much so that she doesn't want him to have any other friends (er…). One day Kai is kidnapped by the Snow Queen, and Greta embarks on a journey to find him.
There's a heap of ideas thrown into this. Along the way Greta meets a number of fairy tale and Christmas characters who are trying to cope with life after their ‘happily ever afters'. It's a neat idea. But why is there a mercenary Red Riding Hood who sounds like she has stepped out of Eastenders? Why does Rudolph act like a camp American.
Sadly the show's theme of friendship feels contrived. A lot of the time Greta's character is passive until she has to solve others' problems. This leaves out any character development until the end. And when her voice isn't been modulated, Natasha Jayetileke struggles to make the Snow Queen threatening. Her motivations are vague and confused, and the final resolution is just as forced as the overriding theme.
There is some efficient use of lighting provided by the metal tubes that decorate the stage. These help differentiate the scenes on a rather static set. However this is one occasion where I wish the Nuffield would invest in a larger band. There are some dramatic moments that require more than a keyboard and a few guitars, and their attempts at rock music and rapping made me cringe.
Overall there are a few fun moments and the songs are charming, but despite the cast's efforts it's the story that lets this down. Ideas thrown at this either hit or miss, characters don't develop until required, there's no conflict and plot threads are left hanging. There was little to invest in for the families sitting around us.
Sadly I'll have to say that you and your family will get more out of the crop of panto this year.
The Snow Queen plays until the 4th January 2015.