As an army of minute children descend down the aisle towards a Christmas coated stage and form a freakish, yet excitable mosh pit, it can only mean one damn thing, The Snowman is back in town – and for its 19th consecutive year no less. Yay!
Based on Raymond Briggs’ classic children’s book and the equally beloved 1982 short film, the story follows a young boy and his mischievous snowman as they fly around the world to the angelic voice of Aled Jones. There’s plenty to get your teeth stuck into and what’s so beautiful about The Snowman returning to The Peacock’s stage year after year is how attractive it is to different people of varying ages. The show is a very loyal adaption of Briggs’ story with some very special extras that could have been created by Matthew Bourne himself. There’s a lot of dance involved, yet it isn’t strictly a dance piece. Rather, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre have created what can be summed up as a play without words. It is simple and very magical.
Rurai Murchison’s set – and particularly the living room pieces – have travelled straight from the 1970s. Every precaution has been taken to ensure the aesthetics are as idyllic and traditional as possible. Mum (Hannah Flynn) is prim and permed and Dad (Federico Casadei), bespectacled and pipe smoking. The boy (Charlie Gallacher), naughty but respectful is part of a loving, happy family. It is perfect escapism.
Highlights include a radically trippy light-switch extravaganza and life-size fruit walking out of their fridge-home and completing a limbo. The costumes alone are impressive and life-like, creating a feeling of surrealism at seeing animals and food so large. The performances are all superb and easily bewitch the entirety of The Snowman’s target audience.
Howard Blake’s unforgettable score is present throughout and threatens us with ‘Walking in the Air’ many times before it finally arrives and launches the Boy and his fashionable, frosty friend above the stage. Nostalgia for the story itself is enough but it’s the rose-tinted Christmas ideal many of us remember seeing in picture books as kids that engulfs us in magic.
Embrace this time of year as though you are still a child vomiting with excitement and make The Snowman your first stop. One thing to ask yourself though…is it perhaps a tad disturbing to see a small boy put his safety in the hands of a Snowman who has no motorcycle license?
The Snowman is playing The Peacock Theatre until January 1 2017.