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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Watermill - The Snow Queen

29th November 2006 to 6th January 2007.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Watermill turns a classic tale into something new

The Snow Queen goes down well with its young audience

The Snow Queen, at The Watermill, Bagnor until Sunday December 31

Squeals of both fright and delight from Saturday night's young audience signalled a thumbs-up for The Watermill's Christmas show The Snow Queen.

The design, combining orange-hued patchwork and blocks of frozen blue, reflected the play's mix of Nordic myth and ethnic folklore. Cunningly hidden sliding doors revealed the realm of the queen with a heart of ice and an extreme plan to obliterate spring by covering the world with snow.

Despite the big freeze, her majesty's crisp white bustier, stiletto-heeled boots and dominatrix stance had a warming effect on the hearts of several men in the audience.

Mirrors are the key to this plot. They have the power to turn good to bad and back again.

At first, the snug textiles and snow-tipped weatherboarding drew us to the cosy corner of Gerda and Kai, to listen in on their grandmother's stories of mystery and imagination.

But, with a flood of cold light, the warmth soon disappeared as the tales became chillingly real after Kai glanced into the Snow Queen's mirror and became her thrall.

I've always loved The Watermill's knack of turning the most familiar story into something unexpected. In a departure from Andersen's original, Gerda set out to reclaim Kai's frozen soul with Freya, the goddess of spring, whose buffoon of a brother Frey had also been tricked into serving the queen's cause.

Their journey became a hilarious fright night of trolls and robbers, with a surprise that caught us all out and made rows of bottoms leap up from their seats. No, I'm not going to spoil the fun by telling how.

But I can say that the youngsters at an earlier performance had either been so enrapt by the action or taken completely by surprise, that more than one seat had to be dried.

This was another great ensemble piece by the six actor/musicians, playing 14 parts and a multitude of stringed instruments to enhance the atmosphere of a frozen wasteland.

The Snow Queen had snowflakes, catchy tunes, and a satisfied sigh of 'aaahhhhhh' when all was set to rights. It's already so popular, you'll be lucky to find tickets.


From the Sunday Times.

Three stars
Christmas shows have become so sophisticated these days that it is a pleasure to be offered some simple, unaffected theatrical magic and an uncomplicated morality tale about keeping faith with your beliefs. Hans Christian Andersen’s take on Nordic mythology is refreshingly unfamiliar territory, and the Watermill has added its customary twist of finding a cast who make their own music. A cellist Snow Queen and a Granny who plays drums are just part of the enchantment on offer to five-year-olds and up.


There's a review in the Oxford Times ("thoroughly enjoyable Christmas entertainment").