• Dec 06,2013
  • In Review
  • By Abundant Art

The Snowman Birmingham Repertory Theatre Production Peacock Theatre-Sadler’s Wells, 27 Nov 2013 – 5 Jan 2014

The Snowman is back at the Peacock theatre on its annual run. A magical precursor to the festive season, it is a fantastic adaptation of the children’s classic by Raymond Briggs. It is a feast for both children and adults, who together can enjoy interacting with all the Christmas characters. Along with the little boy Jmaes there is, of course the Snowman with a whole bunch of other snowmen, a very flamboyant Father Christmas in his glistening red attire, and there are penguins, reindeers and a snow fairy. There are other animals and fruits as well, all in their brightly coloured puppet costumes creating a cosy snowy ambience.

As the show begins the buzzing children slip into a sudden quietness – the stage opens up with its snow covered Christmas trees standing tall on either side of the stage. The boy James is still in bed, while mum and dad are already busy in their daily chores in the living room. James wakes up to a beautiful snow filled morning and goes out to the back yard to make his customary snowman. This Snowman comes to life that night when the whole world is sleeping. When James goes out to check on him, the Snowman takes a bow and shake hands with him. They bond and the journey of experiencing each other’s worlds begin. Martin Fenton’s performance as the Snowman is eerily like that of a snowman. His movements mimic the soft weightless glide of an actual ball of snow. They are frictionless with no sign of conscious effort.

Through the first half of the show James takes the Snowman around his house where he is amazed at his discoveries in a human household. He tries to laze on the sofa but its next to a fireplace, so he almost begins to melt. James rushes to switch it off. He meets the household pet cat and ends up ruffling him out of his cosy corner. James stands him in front of the kitchen fridge with its door open which is a breeze of relief for him.  A giant banana, coconut and pineapple pop out and the dance of the three that ensue is one of the highlights of the evening. The Snowman then goes on to ride a motorbike with James seated on the side carrier. This untimely night ride drives out a squirrel, fox and a rabbit out of their resting places.This leads to another memorable dance sequence under a starlit night sky.

The Snowman now whisks James with him to his land and introduces his little friend to his other snowman friends all dressed in attires from different countries. The flying sequence here definitely adds to the awe and wonder of the show and is received with thunderous applause. Beautiful dance sequences unfurl in this section as there are more characters, typical to the land of Father Christmas. Father Christmas himself being the most popular as there is a cheer from the audience as he enters in his sledge. The reindeers, penguins and the snow fairy all welcome Jack to their land. What ensues is a fun filled second half with more dance numbers, mime and drama to the original score by Howard Blake.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s recreation of The Snowman is a beautiful translation of the book into this stage presentation. The format is simple yet catching. Very colourful and bright even when its all white. The use of bright colours, crisp direction, flawless performance by the cast and the innocent presence of young James played by Archie Durrant is the ideal treat for all in the run up to Christmas. The snowfall on the audience at the end when James is cushioned back by his buddy to his warm bed adds positively to a winter wonderland experience. He wakes up the next morning to a bright day only to find Snowman is all but melted leaving behind his hat and scarf lying on the snow. Children in the house dance to the finish under the lightly showering snow in the house!

                                                                                                                            Protima Chatterjee

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