The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre
What should be an enjoyable evening out for the family to cosy up to while listening to sentimental Christmas numbers played by a fantastic orchestra becomes an uncomfortable display of a very white vision that is completely out of touch with the demographic of its London audience. With an almost exclusively white cast, the “other” features in odd moments, such as a scene in the kitchen where the boy (Johnny Jackson) leads the snowman (Martin Fenton) to the fridge to cool down, which turns into a dance with exotic fruits against the silhouettes of Hawaiian girls dancing the hula, like a prepubescent fantasy.
The Snowman, under Bill Alexander’s direction, tells the story of a boy who builds a snowman that comes to life in the night. The child brings him into his home wherein begins a series of adventures from the dancing fruit to the dress up with his parents’ clothes and eventually to an adventure that crosses the ocean as the boy and snowman fly to the North Pole.
The play opens in a family home where the mum appears in an apron happily ironing away or tucking the boy in, making sure he dresses warmly or taking off his shoes, while the father smokes his pipe, reads the newspaper or watches television. A number of other characters walk past their house, stopping to perform a Christmas carol, which one might think would be an ideal opportunity to bring in some colour to disturb the monotony of white. Alas, we must content ourselves with the token “other” and await the peak of all things uncomfortable when the stereotype reaches its climax later on, with the appearance of other snowmen and one snow-woman.
It is when they finally arrive at the North Pole that we meet the other snow-people, each of whom are dressed in a stereotypical representation of an entire country while the children shout “China” to the one in the coolie-hat, “America” to the one dressed as a cowboy, “Scotland” to the one in a kilt, “England” to the one in a top-hat, and a confused “Saudi Arabia” or “Aladdin” to the one in the Turkish fez cap. The snow-woman, in contrast, seems to transcend the stereotype of the borders with the iconic pink apron that places her firmly in any “girlie” kitchen complete with flower decorations. Jack Frost is the redeeming anti-hero in this road well-trampled.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
The Snowman is at the Peacock Theatre from 22nd November 2018 until 6th January 2019. Book your tickets here.
Watch the trailer for The Snowman here: