The Snow Queen @ Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

The Lyceum's new production of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale is a sparkling tale filled with humour, invention and adventure

Review by Elaine Law | 19 Dec 2023
  • The Snow Queen

Brrrr. There’s a definite chill in the air – a bite at your toes and a nip at your fingers. Winter is upon us, and it might be here for a while if the Snow Queen has her way. The classic fairytale written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845 has been adapted by Morna Young and transported to the streets of Victorian Edinburgh in this feisty and festive production directed by Cora Bissett.

The production sparkles from the start, with impressive vocal performances from both Rosie Graham as Gerda and Claire Dargo as the Snow Queen. When Gerda’s friend Kei (Sebastian Lim-Seet) is taken by the Snow Queen, Gerda is determined to save him and so begins the start of an epic adventure. 

Emily James’ set design effectively transports the audience from the streets of the city, watched over by the glowing Edinburgh Castle high upon the hill, to a bustling train out of Waverley and further north to glide on skis down snow-covered hills. Dargo has a commanding stage presence and casts a convincingly evil Queen hell-bent on destroying any hope of spring. But thankfully, her foe Gerda (Graham) is equally formidable, full of heart, hope, and an unerring belief in friendship. A special mention also to Samuel Pashby as Corbie (the Snow Queen’s bird servant), who brings humour and heart to the role. 

The production packs in adventure and magic, but also plenty of laughs. The only weakness of the production arrives in its attempts to tick off some traditional panto party pieces – when Richard Conlon as the flamboyant Hamish the Unicorn briefly addresses the front row, or gets the different sections of the audience to sing, or drops an adult innuendo with each flounce of his tail, it just feels a bit out of place.

Instead, the pizzazz and the power of The Snow Queen comes from the story at its heart, which is delivered with joy and plenty of Christmas sparkle. A magical feast for eyes and ears, it’s the perfect toast to the season.

The Snow Queen, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until 31 December, various times