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The Crack Magazine


The Snow Queen at Theatre Royal

The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen are usually less about fairies and more about forces of Nature, human behaviour, grotesquely powerful inanimate objects and the need for some universal (and ultimately Christian) code of morals to make sense of it all. “The Snow Queen”, however, like “The Little Mermaid”, wins a special place in our hearts not because it tells us how to be nice to each other, but because it features an iconic, glamorous central character. In the case of the Mermaid she’s an innocent who travels along a harsh learning curve, but the Snow Queen is a fully-fledged femme fatale dominating a world where evil mirrors, frozen hearts and the corruption of the young set the tone. Fulla laughs, then – and also full of that powerful seasonal resonance which draws us towards snowy landscapes, glistening icicles and powerful women sporting white furs and crystalline headdresses. Scottish Ballet’s adaptation reflects this with a framework of seasonal inevitability within which the human characters (with the children Kai and Gerda grown up into young lovers) attempt to follow their own destinies. Against the glittering costumes of Summer and Snow are set the earthier tones of sensible winter clothes – even including the odd woolly jumper – but there are also the shabby sequins of a travelling circus., complete with tattooed strong man and swirling gypsy dances. Best of all are the two white wolves who accompany the Queen with leaping, snarling energy. Exquisite dancing but also humour, tenderness and (if I dare put it this way) real warmth.

Gail-Nina Anderson

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