Review: Snow White, Tobacco Factory Theatre
For the third time, Tobacco Factory Theatres have collaborated with New International Encounter to produce a fun Christmas show for the whole family. If you've seen either of their previous productions (Beauty and the Beast, Hansel & Gretel) then you'll know that you're guaranteed a fun and quirky experience right from the start.
This is a modern re-telling of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale Snow White, with a small but hugely talented cast. Just six members not only play several characters but also form the band whose lively music adds such a lot of joy and life to the production right from the very first scene.
Stefanie Mueller steals the show as the cruel (but often hilarious) stepmother, and despite truly evil intentions, she manages to invoke a strange kind of sympathy for her character's desperate fear of growing older and less beautiful than her daughter. Jodie Davey plays Snow White with an earnest naivety, and she remains wholly positive and upbeat throughout, despite the tough hand that life has dealt her.
Indeed, Snow White makes the best of ending up with a bunch of misfits deep in the forest. There are no dwarves but instead we meet the community of 'earth burghers', a group of vegans who have left the city and their old corporate lives behind. All are likeable characters but with very different personalities, and all play their role in helping Snow White avoid her deadly fate. Much hilarity ensues during regular 'count-ups' where there are some interesting sums and ingenious ways of always ending up with seven rather than the four characters the audience can see in front of them.
"Beauty is not what we see in the mirror. It is our actions in the world", Snow White tells her stepmother when they cross paths again. Social responsibility and forgiveness are strong themes throughout and there are light-hearted references to Trump and building walls to keep out "those who don't look like us" which brings this production bang up-to-date.
Simple yet stunningly effective set design and lighting by Trui Malten, plus clever use of the small central stage means the audience feels emotionally invested in the story for the duration of the show (a manageable 1 hour 40 minutes). This intimate theatre always lends itself to audience interaction and there is plenty of that, which just adds to the gentle humour in the second half.
At the end of the performance, an older member of the audience turned to me and said, "Well I don't know about you, but I've forgotten all my worries after that." She certainly wasn't alone as I looked around at the smiling faces of the rest of the departing audience.
Verdict: This may be an updated fairy tale with references to current world issues, but for a couple of fun hours it's entirely possible to forget the trials of 2019 altogether. This is an utterly charming and hugely enjoyable Christmas show for all ages. Don't miss it!
Snow White is at Tobacco Factory Theatre until 19th January 2020. Find out more and book tickets here.
Disclaimer: I was offered two complimentary tickets in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. Photo credit: Mark Dawson Photography