The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre
The Snowman, which has been running for around 20 years, is by now a family institution, and the nostalgia of the 1978 Raymond Briggs’s book has been carefully retained. The show opens with the unforgettable and hauntingly beautiful Walking in the Air (Howard Blake) as an accompaniment to the Boy sleeping soundly. Then, during the rest of the performance, much of the music, which is both humorous and imaginative, uses the melody from Walking in the Air as a point of inspiration. The set also contributes to this sense of nostalgic wonder. It is very stylised and colourful, as are the costumes (which complement it very well), and both rely strongly on the “Christmas image” (snow, carol singers, stockings and cocoa in front of the television). Further to this, they provide the perfect context for a pantomime-like and slapstick style that goes down hugely well with the audience, which is almost entirely dominated by families with young children. The production speaks directly to this demographic, and in the scenes where the Boy explores his house with the Snowman, all the props (his father’s glasses and pipe, the fridge and the sofa) are oversized, emphasising a child’s physical perspective.
For the purposes of tension and balance some elements have been added to the story. The most outstanding of these is a romance between the Snowman and the Ice Princess, and the introduction of a “baddy”: Jack Frost. The latter addition is excellently choreographed (as is the whole show, whilst retaining an imaginative charm, despite some moments of un-synchronised music and movement) and very amusing. While his defeat is perhaps rather too swift to be truly convincing, it does add some variety, and given the proportion of the audience that was under ten years old (and shrieking with delight), this was perhaps a good thing.
The true highlight of The Snowman is undoubtedly the flying sequence. It acts as the climax of nostalgia, and as such proves a very emotional experience. Many adults will be reminded of childhood encounters with the story, especially due to the loyalty of the performance to the original. The Snowman is about coming to terms with growing up and with the way things come to an end. This is portrayed with magnificent effect, and, merged with the pervasive sense of good fun and adventure, makes the show something truly enjoyable for adults and children alike.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
The Snowman is at the Peacock Theatre from 21st November until 31st December 2017. Book your tickets here.
Watch the trailer for The Snowman here: