By Michelle Rawlins
This family adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s highly acclaimed story is a captivating mix of enchanting and magical theatre with a dark undertone.
Based around the close and loving friendship of two children, who live next door to one another, it empathetically explores the heartbreaking consequences of what happens when that bond suddenly breaks down.
Although Kai, played by the extremely talented Mitchell Wolfe, and Gerda (Hannah Victoria) have been friends for as long as they can remember, spending their summer days playing in the park and their winter afternoons sledging through the snow, this all changes after the Mum of the once carefree little boy dies.
Devastated, Kai understandably struggles to cope with his loss and goes on a journey to try and find his way in the world. But in his vulnerable state, he is kidnapped by the alluring Snow Queen, who steals his already shattered heart.
As he is held hostage, Kai is brain washed, his memory erased and his heart frozen, he lives in a trance like state, deemed to remain in the ice kingdom, at the hands of his cruel and powerful captor, for the rest of eternity.
But his old friend Gerda has other plans. She hasn’t forgotten about her long lost pal, and sets herself a mission to rescue Kai.
Thankfully, Tutti-Frutti productions, who know exactly how to keep young families enthralled, have taken a softer approach to the fairy tale to prevent little ones becoming too overwhelmed by the sinister under currents, making it suitable for children aged three and upwards.
As Gerda courageously travels to the coldest part of the world, she encounters several wondrous and on the whole harmless characters, including a singing flower, who loves nothing more than a good dance, and a lovable rogue, who instead of robbing Gerda; hands over a pair of gloves to protect her from the icy conditions.
Writer, Mike Kenny, who was highly praised for his adaptation of E Nesbit’s The Railway Children and York’s Mystery Plays, has achieved just the right balance of happiness and sadness. Although the Snow Queen is clearly the ‘bad guy’ she isn’t too terrifying in her full length silver puffer coat, and the power of love should never be under estimated.
The two friends, despite their tender ages, confront some big emotions including, grief, love, loyalty and trust, but the themes are so magically entwined into the wintery adventure, that even the youngest members of the audience can’t fail to to be enthralled.
Showing at York Theatre Royal until October 13 www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
Then touring until December 31 www.tutti-fruiti.org.uk