Review: The Snow Queen, New Wimbledon Theatre Studio
Published in The Stage, 17.12.2008
With its sense of expedition and an array of fantastical characters, The Snow Queen makes perfect material for small-scale visual theatre. However, Finger in the Pie’s Lecoq-inspired production is little more than a series of set pieces strung clumsily together that subordinates storytelling to stage trickery.
A quaint metaphor for adolescence, Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale recounts Greta’s quest to rescue her best friend Kay from imprisonment at the Snow Queen’s arctic palace, encountering rivers, robbers and reindeers en route.
Aiming for a cutely continental production, director Alexander Parsonage commits a host of elementary errors. While his direction starts brightly and displays sporadic flashes of neat invention, too often it boils down to physical illustration of a clunky, over-simple script and dressing-up box literalism, whereby grandmothers wear bonnets and seductive horticulturalists floral dresses.
However, thanks to the rosy-cheeked energy and wide-eyed enthusiasm of Ana Mirtha Gutierrez as Gerta, the piece’s misgivings never result in tedium. Even as Greta’s travels reduces to a generic sense of journeying, Gutierrez is quirkily humorous and charmingly watchable throughout.
Without wanting to be cruel, The Snow Queen is an amateurish effort, altogether reliant on its leading actress and the charity of its audience.
Photograph: Finger in the Pie Theatre