A Hundred Words for Snow at Trafalgar Studios
The intimate setting of Trafalgar Studio 2 combined with the conversational tone of A Hundred Words for Snow lures us into a world of laughter, love and loss as we join Rory on her heartfelt expedition to the North Pole, where she plans to spread her father’s ashes.
On top of coming to terms with the loss of her dad, the protagonist also comes of age. Contemplating her grief as well as the world around her, Rory learns to embrace herself and stand her ground as an assertive and assured adolescent woman. The transformation is endearing to behold, the audience sharing her struggles whilst realising her strengths. The re-enactment of the teenager’s first sexual encounter is uncomfortably raw yet relatable, with laughter-inducing candour. It is this marriage of drama and comedy that makes for an absorbing piece of theatre.
The minimal set by Christianna Mason is complemented by effectively emotive sound design by Mark Sutcliffe as well as evocative lighting by Lucy Adams; however, the main focus of our attention is of course on Gemma Barnett as the sole performer who holds us in a headlock of engagement for 75 minutes – no mean feat. Tatty Hennessy, a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writer’s Program, has created a perfect metaphor in using the bleak and lonely landscape of the Arctic to mirror the equally wondrous, yet profoundly alienated adolescent world and our individual experiences of grief.
It is testament to both Barnett and Hennessy that we are able to invest ourselves so deeply in this character, especially given the brief running time of the piece. There is a lot for the audience to process in the short show, with Barnett ensuring the pace flows whilst permitting the more poignant parts of the play to have breathing space for our own contemplation.
You might not find all of the jokes funny but the themes are universal and most will leave the theatre taking a part of the play and the character with them. If you seek to experience enlightenment and emotion whilst being thoroughly engaged and entertained, this is one theatrical journey you’ll be glad embark upon.
Photo: Nick Rutter
A Hundred Words for Snow is at Trafalgar Studios from 5th until 30th March 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.