Review: The Snow Queen at Bristol Old Vic

Written by Milo Davison.

The Flower Witch, photo by Mark DouetThe Flower Witch, photo by Mark Douet

A fight between good and evil with an icy darkness – Milo Davison (10) reports from Bristol Old Vic's Christmas production.

The Snow Queen at Bristol Old Vic made a unexpected start. The two main characters, Gerda and Kai, were introduced as puppets.

In the small peasant Village of the Yellow Roses both began as swaddled blankets, then as toddlers and young children both were puppets controlled by actors - learning to crawl then as young children until actors Steven Roberts (Kai) and Emily Burnett (Gerda) took over.

The songs were catchy, the music and lyrics were relevant to the scenes and I often wanted to dance.

I liked when Gerda and Kai called each other names in their first song to show how good friends they were, like ‘a factory full of farts’ and ‘the stickiest, stickiest kind of glue’.

Thousands of miles away in the Antarctic, I think, two goblins had captured bad-tempered children to feed the Snow Queen with their angry thoughts.

Doctor Boffin, played by Joanna Holden, and a goblin apprentice, played by Dylan Wood, were pulling a giant machine.

This machine looked handmade and I really liked all the gadgets they could pull out. Then a shadow projection of the Snow Queen appeared and we heard her speak - Gwyneth Herbert, the musical director, made a voice that sounded like it extinguished all hope.

Then back in the village Kia was captured for his big heart which was turned black by a magical shard. So started Gerda’s adventure to find her friend.

In one scene she swam with the turtles and these were my favourite costumes - they had green clothing a big shell on their back and it looked like their bellies were resting on a skateboard or a platform with wheels so they could scoot along really smoothly.

Gerda washed up on a beach where the Flower Witch, played by Miltos Yerolemou, found her. He had a hilarious costume of a flowery body with a fake beard with artificial flowers stuck to it.

He also had a companion called Parrot, played by Jessica Hayles. Her costume was quite cool with feathers sticking out here and there and a head-dress with a row of multicoloured feathers along the top which kind of reminded me of a centurion.

The Flower Witch had been bullied by other humans but Gerda made friends with him and liked him for his different style, just like her friend Kai who preferred dancing to football.

My favourite song was by the evil Duchess which was robotic and electronic and my favourite character was the Snow Queen.

Her costume had a giant icy ribcage a long snow battered dress night black beady eyes and a rugby ball shaped head with icicles sticking out - how she looked was how she was inside.

The set was great too, especially the smoke effects making icy fog.

A soul devouring, heart touching, laughing happiness, heartbreaking, icy sunlit performance.

The Snow Queen runs until January 15. For tickets, visit