THE SNOW QUEEN at Park200 Theatre, Finsbury Park, London
Paula James, Esmonde Cole and Matthew Cavendish: photo Manuel Harlan

Hurrah, it's that time of the year when we can indulge in whimsical nonsense, cheesy jokes, bright costumes and happy endings in festive productions. J Clare Productions have enabled exactly that with their charming rendition of the traditional Hans Christian Andersen tale The Snow QueenReturning to the Park Theatre for its second year of panto this innovative company has offered their own take on this classic tale with a rewriting by Charles Way and clever direction by Abigail Anderson.

Featuring selfless Gerda (Ayesha Casely-Hayford) in her quest to rescue Cei,(Esmonde Cole) her closest friend from a bleak and cold future with the cruel, icy Snow Queen (Frances Marshall) we share the perilous journey across forests, mountains and hills where we encounter an assortment of characters who spur her on to success. There is music, laughter, audience participation and of course, some scary moments - what more can we ask for? It may not be high tech or lavishly costumed but that in itself is refreshing and moves us away from the gimmicks of large scale productions. 

In this intimate space a clever wooden set design (Gregor Donnelly) and blue, frosted lighting with a glimpse of northern lights (Richard Williamson) achieve just the right tone. We are there with Gerda, willing her forward as she continues in her arduous task, overcoming her fears to rescue her friend, Cei, a warm-hearted, happy go lucky teenager with a wide imagination who is easy prey to the will of the heartless Snow Queen and her icy shards.

The seven strong cast give it their all with their singing, dancing and boundless energy. They are entirely invested in their roles and we take them to our hearts. With the help of bickering flowers, snowball fights, cracked mirrors, a confused princess, ferile robbers and a talking Reindeer, Gerda defies the elements to save her friend. Justin Brett takes on many roles, including the deliciously camp Daffodil and injects some glorious comical elements into his performance. Playing alongside are Sarah-Louise Young, Paula James and Matthew Cavendish  who play multiple roles, clearly enjoying and savouring every moment and inviting many a giggle with their antics. There may be some darker elements but the younger audience members did not allow these to mar their enjoyment and joined in enthusiastically.

With its strong technical team, great physical movement (Lucie Pankhurst) and considered direction, The Snow Queen  is an endearing festive production, which will appeal to many a young child and adult. Take away the chill of reality, suspend belief for a couple of hours and be part of the icy landscape at London's Park200 theatre.  

Happy Christmas to you all. 

Venue: Park 200, Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP 
Dates: 4 Dec 2019 – 4 Jan 2020

Age guidance: 5+ (children under 5 will not be admitted) 
Performances: Mon-Sat evenings 7.00 pm. Variable matinees at 11.00 am, 3.00 pm and 4.00 pm.  
Access performances: Parents & Babies, Mon 30 Dec 1.00 pm
Audio Described, Fri 27 Dec 3.00 pm Touch Tour 2 pm
Prices: Standard £18.50 - £32.50,
Booking: /
020 7870 6876

*10% telephone booking fee, capped at £2.50 per ticket.