Four incredible women made their way onto Barbican Theatre’s humble stage this Saturday, gracing their family audience with a show like no other. After battling through the typical Devonshire elements, I sat down to watch The Snow Beast, a show I’d been highly anticipating for quite some time. Created by The Scratchworks Theatre Company in association with the beloved Barbican Theatre, this show delivered a tale in such a way as to redesign the face of modern-day theatre.
First of all – a theatre troupe made up entirely of women? Count me in. Representation is so important in theatre and entertainment as a whole, so it was fantastic to watch four incredibly talented women deliver a representative tale of a female scientist. Over the course of two hours, we familiarised ourselves with both the Nordic landscape of Seldomberg and our protagonist Faina, her journey of discovery providing the show with its narrative prowess. Faina is, despite lacking in confidence, an established and successful scientist, and we see her blossom from a shy and timid scientist to one that is collaborative, sociable, and successful. Sian Keen is wonderful in her role as Faina, making her a lovable, transformative character that everyone could relate to in some way or the other. Her owl companion Maude, played by actress Alice Higginson, was the perfect foil to Faina’s self-conscious character. Strong-willed and surprisingly Geordie, Higginson was both hilarious and immersive in her role.
Hanora Kamen brought the Nordic element to life, switching between languages throughout the show and making the audience laugh at her undiluted exuberance as a ‘Fire-ologist’. A talented musician, she worked with several instruments and a loop pedal to integrate music into the show, a key element in bringing the magic to life. Laura Doble was a hilarious narrator, interrupting key climactic moments to provide dry-witted commentary which explained science in very simple terms for those of us who may have been less in the know.
In terms of science, the troupe integrated a handful of science experiments which impressed the audience regardless of whether they were 4, 14, or 40. Foam explosions, fire, and high-pressure smoke all contributed to the life force of the production. Paired with the magical presentation of the ethereal Snow Beast and the glow-in-the-dark river monster, there were plenty of visual elements to keep kids and adults alike entranced.
The science wasn’t the only visual element; with a beautifully crafted science lab backdrop, the troupe also came together to present three hilarious foot professors, which were so creative I honestly can’t fathom how someone came up with the idea. I mean, who looked at a foot, turned it upside down and thought, ‘you know what – this looks like a person. Let’s put it in a hoody and put it on stage!’ Whoever thought it is clearly well placed in the theatre, and it was just yet another element which multiplied the entertainment factor.
With a beautiful score, some fantastic contemporary dancing and a strong narrative, Kamen, Higginson, Doble and Keen have truly pulled off a piece of theatre like no other. Make sure you catch their other shows – details can be found here.
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