Jessica Harris goes along to Birmingham Rep for a post-Christmas classic.
The Snowman made a welcome return to the Rep in January. This enduring production provides a moment when children are invited to marvel at the magic of the world, and a moment too where adults are invited to remember what the wonder of a child feels like.
The Snowman is beloved because it’s all about experiences, and how these make us feel. For the boy and the snowman, the world is an unknown place. In the night, whilst grown-ups sleep, they discover the fun of playing in the snow, the enchantment of toys which come to life, and the elation of flying high above the earth. And they discover that life isn’t always plain sailing: the image of the snowman sliding down a gloriously out-sized armchair, as he melts in front of the fire, is memorable.
The Rep’s production captures the sense of curiosity, the spirit of adventure and the pleasure felt by the boy and the snowman as they encounter the unexpected. Iy also fondly captures their relationship, as they share new experiences and look out each other when threats appear. All of this is achieved through the medium of movement, dance and live music. Each new tableau is given shape by rapid scene changes, all within the setting of a softly lit snow globe.
Ethan Sokontwe as the Boy is remarkable: his feel for dance shines through, and his pure pleasure in performing lights up the whole production.
Main roles are well supported through the cast of snow-women and snowmen, Father Christmas and the Snow Princess. Extra child-appeal is delivered through two comical penguins, dancing fruit, reindeer, and a wonderfully silhouetted Jack Frost, full of mean and spiky intention.
The snow which falls on the audience at the finale completes the magic, connecting us to the world of the boy and the snowman, and to each other.
If you didn’t see The Snowman this year, make it a diary date for next. In the noise that comes with Christmas, it’s a reminder of the importance of wonder, curiosity and community.
The Snowman is a stage show based on the book by Raymond Briggs and the film directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by John Coates. Music and lyrics are by Howard Blake, choreography by Robert North. The director is Bill Alexander.
Images: Herbie Knott, Tristram Kenton.