THEATRE / The Snow Queen - Young Vic, London SE1

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The Independent Culture
Back after last year's success, Nick Stafford's adaptation of the fairy-tale is recast but still has the charm and integrity that marked it out last year. With minimal but inspired sets, the production (directed by Karen Stephens and Chris White) tells the story of Gerda's brave mission to rescue Kai from the clutches of the Snow Queen by suggestion and by drawing on the imagination of its audience.

In this version, the Snow Queen (Jane Maud) is more sad than evil, and we are invited at the end to pity her - this may be commendable as a better message to take home with your mementoes, but it does detract from the thrill of Gerda's task. And the production doesn't always exploit the comic potential of Gerda's encounters on the way - a bit more humour would lift the show.

That aside, it is delightful, full of wonderful moments and characters (notably two gossiping, acquisitive crows). Sonia Ritter's vivid, witty performance as Gerda keeps the show rattling along and Jim Simmons creates magic with the lighting.

Continues at the Young Vic (071- 928 6363).

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