Review: The Snowman, Festival Theatre

The cast provide moments of beautiful, expressive dance theatre
The cast provide moments of beautiful, expressive dance theatre
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The Snowman is still enchanting, even if Scotland’s national soft drink has ruined its most famous scene and you spend the evening waiting eagerly for the boy to be unceremoniously dropped somewhere over George Square.

The Snowman

Festival Theatre * * *

As a piece of dance theatre, there are many beautiful, expressive moments that will enthrall children and evoke fond memories of the first Christmas you sat down to watch it on telly with your family. After all, snow and flying, in theatre as in childhood, are always captivating and exhilarating in equal measure.

Yet the story is 30 years old now and even the TV 
version is being given a festive update with the addition of a dog this year.

The tale of a boy and his magical night with a snowman friend will forever remain a classic. In part, possibly, because it doesn’t have a cloying and sentimental ending. Even now the scenes of the morning after the Snowman’s nocturnal adventures are surprisingly affecting. But the fact remains that it belongs to another era, before we all became so obsessed with modern technology and the speed at which we do things.

What it could do with is a pacier brush-up. The amiable, ambling nature of the story means that it takes some time for the narrative to pick up steam – the pair don’t have a goal or objective to work towards which makes it seem rather aimless on a stage. It isn’t until the second act and an encounter with Jack Frost that the audience can really get involved with the action on stage.

Playing Boy, Gabriel Werb captures perfectly the bounding, exuberant essence of his character. The Snowman, in contrast, is a more mysterious figure. Without the benefits of a mobile face, his motivation needs to be conveyed solely through movement, which Bradley Applethwaite does with wonderfully hulking strides.

The rest of the ensemble and production captures faithfully the intent and energy of Raymond Briggs’ original tale. There are lovely asides, with dancing fruit and a rabbit and fox chase. It’s certainly a great way to get the whole family into the festive spirit.

• Run ends December 30.