Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Chester Storyhouse are offering audiences a fabulously festive alternative to panto this year with an imaginative retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen.
Writer Charles Wray has adapted and opened up the story ensuring all four seasons get their moment in the spotlight while it’s themes of kindness and friendship remain a strong constant throughout as we see Gerda on her journey to find her best friend Cei who has been taken under the spell of the evil Snow Queen.
This modernised version feels bright and inventive with a strong cast who play multiple roles with an easy versatility. Rosemarie Akwafo gives us a loyal and determined Gerda who despite the odds never loses hope of finding her best friend again. Taona Matope displays strong versatility as carefree schoolboy Cei whose life is completely turned around by the evil Snow Queen.
Lucy Tuck makes for a super sinister baddie and in true Snow Queen fashion is sparklier than the Strictly Mirrorball but colder than ice. Special mention also to Chloe Wade, her comic timing as each of her various characters is superb. The supporting cast who each take on multiple roles are a joy, clearly having great fun in this heart-warming, inventive production. There’s a tap dancing reindeer, an almost homage to Barbie and Ken and a fabulous dance off.
Director Hannah Noone has really brought the fun to this story while singer-songwriter Mared Williams heads up a fantastic live band who add enormously to this musical adventure. They play some stunning music with equally as impressive vocals all while perched within the set above the audience.
Designer Jacob Hughes has transformed the Storyhouse theatre into a stunning winter scene, it’s visually beautiful and hugely atmospheric. The raised staging offers a fantastic view from every seat in this beautiful theatre, so important when there’s little ones in many of the seats.
The Snow Queen offers something for all, from young children to seniors every single member of the audience enjoyed getting swept away on this magical adventure. The small section of audience interaction was so much fun and made me wish there had been a little bit more but this is a really minor point amidst many, many positives. This exploration of good versus evil is adventurous as well as entertaining and will warm you from the tip of your toes to the top of your head.
The Snow Queen is on at Chester’s Storyhouse until Sunday 15th January tickets available here.