Monday, 4 December 2017

REVIEW: Once upon a Snowflake at the Chelsea Theatre

The title "Once upon a Snowflake" does not do justice to this creative, innovative children's show at the Chelsea Theatre which offers an imaginative, fun hour of family entertainment . Developed by Russian Theatre Director Maria Litvinova it draws strongly from the style of Russian fairy folklore and uses shadow puppetry to tell the story of Liza and the winter sprites. The producers Paper Balloon Company , for whom Alex Kanefsky is artistic director and Dorie Kinnear is a founding member, specialise in theatre for young people.

The magic starts as we enter the black box theatre to see Joseph Hardy playing the piano and over the following ten minutes he gradually adds more instruments into the tune as the instruments he puts down continue to play. It is a charming and amusing introduction to the storytelling and Darren Clark's original music gently underscores much of the show along with Hardy's sound effects.

The simple setting by Nomi Everall, of bookcases and a screen is adorned with lots of props that get brought into play as Alex Kanefsky and Dorie Kinnear colourfully and animatedly tell the audience that there is nothing they don't know about sprites and induct them into Institute of Spiriteology. Using back projection and the screen they create a delightful shadow puppet show to show the journey of Liza and the sprites.

Another wonderful quirky creative scene is produced when they ask the young audience to help by providing additional props and a rush of children offer coats , hats and scarves to assist in telling a story that has never been told before. Guided by the audience they then improvise the story of Olivia the bear and the evil giraffe , using the clothes to create the characters which is all the more enchanting given the audience interaction and the spontaneity. 

This is a charming Christmas show for young children, but technically and creatively appealing to adults at the same time . It may not have the budgets or production values of a big west end production but it deserves to be highly rated for its enchanting creativity , skilled story telling and magical mystical feel.

Review by Nick Wayne

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