Review: Tutti Frutti’s The Snow Child

Playing from Thursday 23rd February until Saturday 5th of March in York’s De Grey Rooms, Emma Reeves’ ‘Snow Child’ is a modern interpretation of a classic Russian fairy-tale, which, when paired with the production style of Tutti Frutti theatre company, establishes a charming simplicity that delights its audience throughout.

Tutti Frutti’s three-man cast shifted effortlessly through their multi-role characters, playing each one as convincingly as the next. The Snow Child herself, played by Mei Mac, remained the same character throughout, allowing the audience to engage more deeply with the journey of the young girl, as she left her free spirited past in the deep dark forest to live and behave, as much as she can, like a ‘normal’ human child.

Simplistic elements included in the props and aspects of the character allowed this performance and its magical setting to transform before the eyes of the delighted audience. Immediately after being seated, the younger audience members were enthralled by a game of throw and catch, conducted by each of the three protagonists, played by Mark Pearce, Paula James and the aforementioned Mei Mac. The performance was consistently aware of its audience, which gauged a positive response from the little ones as they offered answers to solve the Snow Child’s confusion at where a hat should go.

The production used a modest set, with neutral colours to emulate the cold winter in which the tale was situated. This worked incredibly well for the eventual transition into spring, as bright red and pink flowers appeared all over the snow-covered trees. Integrating well with the seasons, scenes and speech was the use of music, another integral element of the performance, which tied the performance together and continued the endearing engagement of both the adults and children in the audience. Joanne Bernard’s choreographing of the movement of the performance developed an individuality in the Snow Child’s character, and the coherent use of acting, dancing and singing made the performance all the more pleasurable to watch.

the coherent use of acting, dancing and singing made the performance all the more pleasurable to watch.

The ending of the piece harmoniously ties together all of the betrayal and loss faced by the Snow Child and her parents as they all learn about the hardships and negotiations faced in family life. Although aimed at children, there are some more serious connotations to the performance that can usually be found in Tutti Frutti productions. Whilst at the same time leaving the happiness of the majority of the audience untainted, the performance isn’t afraid to illustrate the ups and downs of family life that may typically be looked over in the hopes of producing a conventional piece of children’s theatre.

A charismatic and engaging performance all-round, Tutti Frutti are able to connect to a story and to portray this eloquently to an audience of both children and adults.