The Snowman
Words by Mike Scott-Harding

Words by: Mike Scott-Harding | Published: Monday, December 5, 2016 12:57 PM
The Snowman, Peacock Theatre The Snowman, Peacock Theatre

Full disclosure: I have seen this production twice already; both times, as an unaccompanied adult and, at both performances, I have shed a tear or two.


As a British Caribbean man fully engaged in his own ‘tales of the middle ages’, I acknowledge that I am, indeed, disclosing far more about myself than about this most conservative of shows. But I don’t care!


Howard Blake’s extraordinary score is the driving force of the piece; it announces and punctuates every movement, and offers comic relief, drama, and impending sadness with equal skill.

This show has been enchanting children – and their parents – for almost 20 years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still around in another 20.


For those unfamiliar [it was a film, book, song, etc. – where have you been?], ‘The Snowman’ tells the tale of a young boy who – having woken up to find snow on the ground – builds a snowman. Being an only-child, the boy is reluctant to let go of his new friend and so, after pretending to go to bed, he gets up to let the snowman ‘in’, in order to continue their play.


After a tour of the house – including meetings with the cat, various toys, his mum’s make-up, and the contents of the fridge – the two adventurers travel further afield, using a his father’s motorbike and side-car.


After frightening the local wildlife, they contrive to fly to Antarctica to meet Santa. This is the part where the famous song ‘Walking in the air’ comes in (an emotional highlight).


Once they get to this destination, they are introduced to Santa, various reindeers, penguins, and assorted other exotic snowmen. Once ‘our’ snowman has saved the ice princess from the evil clutches of Jack Frost, there is nothing much to do but to receive a present from Santa, fly home, and go back to bed.


The Snowman, Peacock Theatre The Snowman, Peacock Theatre

I seem to remember – in a previous iteration – the audience seeing the boy reunited with his parents at the end; something this version does not do. Maybe the production team decided The Boy’s journey was important enough.As as a first lesson in ‘human mortality’ - and of nature’s powers of renewal – the included ending is hard to beat. The Boy’s lone discovery that his friend has gone – just before the snow starts to fall - is still the show’s emotional core.


If the story is slight, the production is still a lo-fi technical marvel.


The show is performed wordlessly, so the entire tale - as well as its emotional content - has to be conveyed through mime, contemporary dance, and most importantly with the music.


Howard Blake’s extraordinary score is the driving force of the piece; it announces and punctuates every movement, and offers comic relief, drama, and impending sadness with equal skill.


The Snowman, Peacock Theatre The Snowman, Peacock Theatre

The staging and lighting are excellent, the choreography work well, and the performances are uniformly good.


It was lovely to spend an evening in a theatre full of contented –and enchanted – children. It was equally pleasant to see their parents and guardians looking just as pleased. Gosh - I even saw other unaccompanied adults who, like me, had similarly large smiles on their faces.


No tears this time, though. Perhaps next year.



Info: The Snowman is at the Peacock Theatre until 1 January 2017 / Book tickets




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