Review: The Snow Queen, West End Playhouse, Morecambe
The Snow Queen is one of Hans Anderson’s more complex and convoluted tales – usually when it turns up on stage in the festive season it is performed by one of our more serious theatre companies, staging a ‘winter drama’.
The current offering at The West End Playhouse is not only a winter drama, it is a full blown, rollicking romp of a pantomime in the great local tradition.
June Metcalfe’s adaptation does contain elements of Anderson’s original, but it is elevated by a wealth of local humour and panto silliness. There are songs, kids on stage, booing and hissing and ‘behind yous’ enough to delight pantomime audiences of all ages.
The eponymous villain, played with great verve and gusto by Sister Christian, is a spiky, spiteful cross between Victor Meldrew and Lady Gaga.
Her ‘I Hate Kids’ song, a cheeky, punky diatribe that had a few in the audience nodding in empathy.
There is a crazy double act of seagulls – with energetic and enthusiastic Eddie (played by Chloe Jane Hirst) bouncing off and around a lugubrious Steven (yes, that’s right, Steven Seagull…) played by Malachi Lovell, like a latter-day Cannon and Ball.
But pride of place should go to Helen Dickinson as Lorna, the park Ranger (think about it, but not too long!) whose wonderful warmth and perfectly pitched addresses to the audience are a masterful counterpoint to the Snow Queen’s angular acidity.
I was particularly impressed by the design of the piece. You step off a damp Morecambe side street into a minor winter wonderland: the decoration of the room enhanced by the live music and singing from the pit band. The costumes are superb – functional, funny and perfect for the characters wearing them.
Director Matt Panesh has taken a local group of people with diverse experience and interests and created a dedicated team of panto performers, all geared toward audience enjoyment. I recommend that you take your kids and see this while you can. The audience I sat in tonight had ages ranging from 4 to 64 – everyone had a great time: all cheering, booing and groaning on cue.
Genuine local pantomime has returned to Morecambe.