Going to a show on ice around the festive period is a popular choice, but there is a reason why these shows are performed in large arenas or ice rinks. Bewitchment on Black Ice is the first Off West End show to be performed on synthetic ice, to which the intimacy of The Landor Theatre does not lend itself. With an audience of only two rows, there is simply nowhere to hide mistakes and the show felt clumsy.
The cast are all sufficient skaters, but the small space meant that choreography looked cramped and as though actors were struggling to avoid bumping into each other. Within the first five minutes a cast member had fallen over and throughout there were trips and slips. This was not only distracting but put the audience on edge.
The storyline follows a beautiful young princess who one Christmas fell in love and had her heart broken. She banished all of her goodness into an enchanted mirror and furthermore lived a solitary existence. Every Christmas she would turn the snow into black ice to remind all those in the land of her power.
The narration of the show was played over a loud speaker but was both uncomfortably loud and extremely fuzzy, meaning that often throughout the story it was unclear why scenes were included and why they were in certain locations, as information had been missed. Even in moments where you could hear it, the story was disjointed and uninteresting.
In some scenes all of the dialogue was played over speakers as the actors skated around, but even with lots of hand gestures it was difficult to depict who was supposed to be speaking. In other scenes however, there was live dialogue and it was unclear why a decision hadn’t been made to either have all live dialogue or all recorded. Jokes were often lost and no atmosphere was created in the room.
Tenuous links were used to include pop and musical theatre songs, but some were played over speakers and some performed live. The tracks played over the speakers (such as ‘I Put A spell on You’ from Hocus Pocus) sounded as though they were badly ripped from the DVD and the rendition of Todrick Hall’s ‘Beauty and the Beat Boots’ was bordering on offensive.
The songs that were sung live were much more enjoyable to watch, but a cast made up of some musical theatre graduates and some professional skaters meant that some of the cast performed nothing live in terms of dialogue or singing. With the vast amount of talented musical theatre graduates there are in London alone, you would think it would not be a hard task to find individuals that could both skate and perform.
I have never been in an audience where so little applause could be heard.
Bewitchment on Black Ice is playing The Landor Theatre until 9 January 2016. For more information and tickets, see Landor Theatre website.