The Snow Queen review: Gaiety panto’s rambunctious take on Frozen

The Christmas show’s sheer spectacle makes up for a few weaknesses in the plot

THE SNOW QUEEN

Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
★★★★☆
"This is my panto," the Snow Queen (Louise Bowden), an icy diva, screams several times in this rambunctious pantomime, a not-so-traditional version of the fairy tale you may know as Frozen.

But she has not reckoned with the gregarious force of Granny Hurdy-Gurdy (the indefatigable Joe Conlan), who, in a series of outfits that get ever more ridiculously stylish as the show goes on, is determined to steal her thunder and thaw the heart of every panto hater.

As writer, director and choreographer, Daryn Crosbie is the creative master of the show, and although this year’s script is not quite as sharp as his usual efforts – the original characters are merely embodied one-line gags – the weaknesses in the story are more than compensated for by the spectacle.

Pauline McCaul’s costume design brings snow demons to life with a freakish Yeti-like frisson, the scenic design – a blend of solid sets and projected surfaces – embellishes the grandeur of the Gaiety Theatre with a frost-patterned mock-proscenium frame, and the special effects extend into the auditorium for some thrilling snowy moments.

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The musical numbers pay homage to traditional music theatre. The scene-setting ensemble opening number, which enumerates the various charms of the pantomime form with dizzying speed, is particularly impressive. Crosbie infuses other traditional tropes with a modern sensibility. In a visual nod to the pantomime horse, our narrator (Michael Joseph) is a rainbow-farting, gender-fluid fairy godmother.

There are other politically topical notes – Brexit and vegans get the satirical touch – but Crosbie is happy to indulge the escapist fantasies of children and their grown-ups. As Granny Hurdy-Gurdy reminds us, panto is not just for kids any more.

Runs until January 20th, 2019