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30 | May 23, 2013 | www.cambridge-news.co.uk | Cambridge News

What’s On Family

Words: Ella Walker

ᔡ The Snow Queen, Cambridge Junction, Sunday, May 26 at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Tickets £9 (£5 concessions) from (01223) 511 511 / www.junction.co.uk

The Snow Queen

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REEZING winds and glittering snow-scapes, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen is bitterly chilling. Which makes children’s theatre company, Trestle Theatre’s skewed angle on it even more fantastical than you can imagine: instead of shivery landscapes, they’ve created a stage version of the classic fairy tale set in the sweltering lands of India, bubbling with colour. Written by Indian writer Anupama Chandrasekhar, it tells the story of best friends Gowri and Kumar who live in the southern snow-free tip of India. “It seems rather a wonderful thing that a North European story, set in a North European context, also really touched a little girl in India,” says director Rosmaunde Hutt. “When [Anupama] was grown up she had this idea of transferring the fairy tale to an Indian context. And she does it very, very cleverly.” The story tracks Gowri’s journey to save her friend from the wicked Snow Queen, travelling all the way up through India to the Himalayas. Rosamunde explains: “The Snow Queendom is

transferred to a magical Kashmir, a magical Himalayas where there are mountains and snow. So the little girl Gowri’s journey is through all these wonderful places in India; the backwaters of Kerala, the glitzy Mumbai, Bollywood, the barren desert-like hills, and those places completely reflect and parallel the places that Hans Christian Anderson chose to set his characters.” A family show that little ones, young teenagers, parents and grandparents can enjoy (“they’ve all got something to chew on,”), it explores a different side to the Snow Queen too. “Often in productions of the Snow Queen we don’t really know why the Snow Queen is like she is. She snatches this little boy, she changes his character and his personality by throwing shards of ice into his eye and his heart but we don’t know the reasons why. Anupama has developed this story where the Snow Queen has lost her own child through a terrible war, so her cruel actions actually come from a great sense of grief and loss,” says Rosamunde. “By the

end of the story the two children release her from that grief and that pain. It’s a very lovely thing that the children in the play are the agents of change they help the Snow Queen to become happy and let go of her hatred and her anger and spring comes once again.” Despite some dark themes it’s also a show filled with comedy, colour and some crazy characters,

like a rickshaw driving half-man half-crow who Gowri meets in Mumbai and a spectacular dance battle in Bollywood that fuses Bollywood and breakdancing. A specially composed soundtrack that spills over with the sounds of bustling Mumbai and dramatic Bollwood also helps take you from place to place. With so many places to capture it must be quite a feat to stage. “It was quite a feat!” says Rosmaunde laughing, describing how an ensemble cast of seven British actors with Asian heritage perform the piece. “We show the storytelling through movement and the visual language of the actors. The props are very, very simple. “A bunch of confetti becomes snow, a couple of boxes and an umbrella become the rickshaw, it’s very simply done so we encourage the children to always use their imagination with what they see.” So why should people see it? “The play is about healing past traumas but it’s also about

what you would do for a friend, it’s about showing the importance of love, it’s about being playful and laughing and having great fun along the way.” It sounds absolutely magical. The 11.30am performance is also the first of its kind at the Junction. It will be fully signed by a member of the cast in the midst of the action, and the audience will be free to make noise and come and go as they please. The relaxed environment is suitable to anyone on the autistic spectrum, or who have sensory or communication disorders, or a learning disability.


The Snow Queen