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Creation Theatre Company - The Snow Queen

22nd November 2005 to 7th January 2006.

From the Sunday Times.

Three stars
A car factory makes an unusual place for a Christmas show, but BMW’s fruitful relationship with Creation Theatre gives them a cavernous industrial space that the designer, Cleo Pettitt, has filled imaginatively, with a soundscape from Peter Lole to match. Like all quests, Lizzie Hopley’s adaptation is a long journey. It gets lost on the way, but the energetic and amiable cast keep their foot on the accelerator. Suitable for ages seven up.


From the Newbury Weekly News.

Winter warmer

Creation Theatre: The Snow Queen, at BMW Plant, Oxford, from Tuesday, November 22 to Saturday, January 7

Creation Theatre Company's Christmas production The Snow Queen, is the perfect title for a play during what is meant to be the coldest winter in a decade.

Performed inside the BMW plant next to the Mini Museum, the new venue is cavernously spacious and another excellent site-specific location for the company.

The show starts with actors' heads poking ominously through a huge, black curtain singing threats to chill the spirit and cause shivers to run down the spine.

Hans Christian Andersen's dark fairytale has been adapted by former Creation actress Lizzie Hopley as a play with songs, with the music composed with pop catchiness by Peter Lole. Most of the numbers occur in the first half which, although about 20 minutes too long, is often a visual delight.

The world is a battleground between two forces of evil - goblins who live in the centre of the hot earth and their enemy the Snow Queen (Jane Kahler), a powerful witch residing hi a castle in Spitzbergen.

The goblins manufacture a weapon of mass destruction - a mirror designed to reverse the personality of anyone gazing at it. They intend to defeat the Snow Queen with it, but the magic backfires and it only serves to make the cold-hearted queen even more powerful.

Shards of glassy ice permeate the earth and one enters the eye and the heart of a young lad, Kay (Richard Vincent). He is subsequently brainwashed by the Snow Queen and becomes her minion. Kay has no family to speak of so it is up to the brave, 12-year-old Gerda (the pint-sized Victoria Fleming) to venture north to find him.

The story is that of a quest, with Gerda experiencing the highs and lows of the adventure before the final showdown with the Snow Queen.

The second half dissolves into slapstick and bad jokes to lighten the mood. There are sadly only three songs after the break but, with Annabelle Bowler's delightful spoof of a Mexican bandit girl, James Hyland's droll A to Z-reading Mr Crow, and Amanda Haberland's bossy Mrs Crow, there are performances to cherish.

Charlotte Conquest's production is just the ticket to warm up winter.


From The Stage.

Like many of the characters in this enchanting fairytale, Creation Theatre Company rarely take the easy way out. The unconventional auditorium of Oxford’s BMW Group Plant has played host to them for several years now but despite the venue’s increasing familiarity, it continues to throw out new inspiration to Creation’s designers and directors.

This time around, the Crystal Maze-like pipes and sheet metal not only strengthen the resolve of the handily named heroine Gerda, they are also fashioned into corrugated ice-sculptures, creating igloos out of industry and a magical Lapland from the magnificent setting, with twice the depth of an ordinary theatrical stage.

Depth of approach is also the order of the day. Director Charlotte Conquest is a veteran of Creation’s Shakespeare programme and it gleams through her take on Hans Christian Andersen. This is not boo-hiss Big Brother in tights panto but nuanced stuff, with nods to Mervyn Peake and the Lewises Carroll and CS. In Act II, some of the surrealism gives way to more familiar elements of slapstick and the occasional racial stereotype. Still, there are plenty of set pieces that children and parents alike should understand on several levels, particularly the sequence in the Clever Castle, steered by Annabelle Dowler’s winningly eccentric Clever Princess. There is also an air of gentleness and genuine wonder in the two leads, played by Victoria Fleming and Richard Vincent, that will stay with you well into the holiday season. As the cast conclude, “the story never ends”.


From BBC Radio Oxford.

The Creation Theatre Company are developing quite a reputation for putting on well-recognised plays in challenging locations. Whether its open-air in the park, or under canvass in a car park, they have tried it all. What's more, this time they have at least put a roof over the production, although a thick sweater may still come in handy, but I'll come back to that in a mo.

Any keen Hans Christian Anderson fan will know The Snow Queen is one of his best stories. It has everything you need, ugly Goblins, good looking central characters, a crazy Gran, Wicked Witch and talking Crows.

The plot in brief: If you take a mirror (that makes good things vanish and bad things look worse) stolen from the Snow Queen by Goblins, then smash it sending particles of glass over the world, you have the beginnings of this tale. Unfortunately our hero Kay (a boy) gets a bit of the mirror in his eye which then (as usually happens) freezes his heart. Now "bad" Kay, he runs off with the Snow Queen, an evil woman whose soul purpose is to chill the earth! His best friend Gerda (a girl) then goes on searching for him, meeting magical friends and frightening foes en route.

Creations relationship with BMW continues as they take over half of the visitor centre at the Mini plant in Cowley. It is large and the space is mostly used as a stage. Charlotte Conquests direction uses that void completely, but by taking on such a large area may have spread herself too thinly. The sets wobble (at times alarmingly) and some of the costumes looked ready to fall off the actors. If your sat on the front row, be prepared to lift your feet on the odd occasion. The first half drags on a little, but once refuelled after the break, part 2 does pick up the pace.

That said, it was a magical evening. The children in the audience were bowled over, and the adults had a good giggle. The cast is well chosen and didn't seem to be fazed by the moving sets. What's more they serve delicious Crepes in the interval... just the right thing to warm you up.