It’s one thing to be stood up, but quite another to be stood up by your own child. Despite being completely entranced by the promo video I showed her for Snow Child – all that singing and dancing and promise of stories! – our eldest girl (three and a half going on thirty-three) decided to shun my invitation to see it live at York Theatre Royal’s De Grey Rooms and hang out with her friends at nursery instead. So off I went, all on my own, to see a piece of children’s theatre. And it was wonderful.
Snow Child is a beautiful, simple tale about family. It’s the story of a couple, perfectly played by Paula James and Mark Pearce, who long to become parents. As the snow falls, they create a little figure from snow and ice and wish as hard as they can for her to come to life. Their elation as their wish comes true is short-lived; their twirling, whirling, snowstorm of a daughter – as sweet, funny and clever as she is – isn’t quite as they’d imagined. The struggle as everyone adapts to their new roles, and the spectre of the impending springtime and great thaw, is gripping and oddly familiar.
Mei Mac is wonderful as the snow child; her reactions to trying clothes on for the first time and – horrors – being expected to eat an egg, are hugely entertaining and spot on. Anyone who is a child, has a child, or has been a child will relate to this and so much of the production: sleep deprivation, bad behaviour and the daily dilemmas of parenting. It’s all there, beautifully told to a captivating soundtrack of songs and live music that bring the snowy landscape to life. The production is aimed at 3 to 8 year olds but its appeal is universal. From the first bar I found myself rooting for all the characters, even the naughty old fox. And I wasn’t alone: the school party at the performance I was at was mesmerised too (teachers and children alike). For me the highlight was a song about other people’s children which is scarily accurate: other people’s children are always cleaner, better behaved and would probably choose to go to the theatre with their mothers rather than stay at nursery. Ah well, maybe next time. Your children are probably more amenable (other people’s children are, you know), so do take them if you can.
Snow Child is on at York Theatre Royal’s De Grey Rooms until Saturday 5th March 2016. Buy tickets online or call the York Theatre Royal Box Office.