Follow Us on Twitter

The Snowman - Peacock Theatre (review)

The Snowman

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IT’S hard to believe but 25 years have slipped by since Howard Blake wrote the musical score and lyrics for Channel 4’s animated film The Snowman, which was based on Raymond Briggs’ picture-book of the same name. Now, this enchanting story is as much a part of Christmas as turkey and hot mince pies.

However, as well as the book, CD (a re-mastered edition has been available since November 2007) and DVD, there’s the stage adaptation which, this year, is celebrating its tenth anniversary at the Peacock Theatre. And what an absolute delight it is.

First and foremost, it remains faithful to the original, right down to the smallest detail – the Christmas cake complete with miniature snowman, for example – although with a running time of approximately one hour and 50 minutes as opposed to the film’s 30 minutes, certain sequences have, of necessity, been developed.

A case in point is the fridge sequence – you remember, when The Snowman cools his hands – out pop three exotic fruits; a pineapple, a coconut and a banana that, with James (perched on a chair) and The Snowman’s help, promptly perform the West Indian limbo dance. How clever!

And a ‘baddie’ has been introduced – in the form of evil Jack Frost – but have no fear, The Snowman never for a moment descends into pantomime farce.

In fact, from start to finish, this is a beautiful production. The costumes, of the animals in particular (the cat, the rabbits, the reindeer, the fox and the penguins) are nothing short of exquisite although it must be said, their realism owes much to the skill of the performers.

The sets too are colourful, well designed and beautifully lit and yes, The Snowman and James really do fly. It’s one of the most magical sequences I’ve seen for a very long time. It makes you want to be up there with them; just as you’d love to zip about the stage on that wonderful yellow motorbike!

So what exactly is The Snowman? As Blake explains in the programme, it isn’t a ballet because there’s singing; it’s not a musical because there’s no dialogue; and it isn’t an opera, a play or even a pantomime. It does, however, contain elements of all five.

More importantly perhaps, it’s theatre at its very best and, as such, there’s no better way to introduce ‘little ones’ to this wonderful creative world. Besides, if the applause at yesterday afternoon’s performance was anything to go by, the ‘grown-ups’ enjoyed it just as much as their young companions. So, here’s to the next ten years and a standing ovation for ALL concerned.

Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, WC2A 2HT.

Telephone: 020 7369 1793.

Reviewed in December 2007.