Review: The Snow Queen at York Theatre Royal

Joanne Sandi, Hannah Victoria and Mitchel Wolfe in the Snow Queen. Photo by Brian Slater.
Joanne Sandi, Hannah Victoria and Mitchel Wolfe in the Snow Queen. Photo by Brian Slater.

Play: Snow Queen

Venue: The Studio, York Theatre Royal

Dates: Until October 13 (then goes on tour)

The Snow Queen is one of my favourite Hans Christian Andersen tales.

It’s incredible to think that this genius storyteller for children was writing his fairy tales between 1835 and 1872, yet those stories are as popular today as they were all those years ago.

Tutti Frutti Productions are back again at The Studio, York Theatre Royal, with a wonderfully visual and imaginative production of the Snow Queen, given a modern twist by renowned children’s playwright Mike Kenny and directed by Wendy Harris.

Tailored brilliantly to appeal to children aged three and above, yet with its universal themes of the power of friendship, and coping with loss and grief, just as appealing to adults too.

The simple, yet very versatile set (designed by Kate Bunce) was put to good use, although in this production, unlike others seen over the years, there was more emphasis on ingenious use of costumes; no spoilers, but look out for the Snow Queen’s (Joanne Sandi) out-of-this world outfit.

All three actors worked brilliantly together as an ensemble with one of the highlights in the production being the lively, engaging and colourful Disco Dancing Flowers musical number, just one of the songs composed by Ivan Stott.

Hannah Victoria put her heart and soul into her role as Gerda, and was most convincing in her quest to find her best friend Kai (Mitchel Wolfe).

The Magic Mirror in the original story was cleverly replaced by a framed photo of Kai’s mother (who had recently died) with the frame’s glass shattering into many pieces numbing Kai’s heart with grief so that he was easy prey to the Snow Queen.

Mitchel made Kai’s grief very real, but showed his versatility as an actor as he multi-roled as a Flower, and a Robber Woman.

Joanne Sandi also showed her versatility, by playing Elsie, the Flower Woman, and the Robber Girl, and excelled in her role as the cold-hearted Snow Queen.

We were left with the mantra that “Nothing Lasts Forever” – so true, but in this particular fairy tale (unlike many of Andersen stories) it was a comfort to have a happy ending and a song in our hearts.