Rosie Brown is gutted to discover that this isn’t a stage adaptation of the beloved Disney movie.
JOKES. I knew that ‘Frozen’ is in fact a rather serious play about serial killers, forgiveness, and a few icy metaphors thrown in for good measure, though it doesn’t involve snowmen or strange singing trolls (okay I’ll stop with the Disney references now).
In fact ‘Frozen’ is one of my favourite plays and I was thus very excited about the prospect of reviewing the work produced by our new batch of freshers.
I must admit I was rather disappointed with the production as a whole, and it often seemed like a completely different play to the one I know and love. Dramatic pauses were more like dramatic naps, and dialogue was drawn out and often melodramatic, though equally rather quiet and muffled, which often had to do with the actors directing their dialogue and speeches up stage, something which can only really be achieved when projection and diction are on point– skills which weren’t always displayed by the actors in this production.
Although the actors each had sparkling moments, these were often stiffed by poor direction, awkward staging, and sometimes a sense that the actors themselves didn’t really understand the lines they were saying. Some lines came across rather robotic and rehearsed, rather than truthful reactions to the moment.
This all resulted in a rather confused picture; although I obviously knew who was who and what was going on in the main plot line, subtleties and intimate moments were lost and I was left with a rather bland feeling by the end, rather than heart-wrenching empathy for all characters, who each go on extreme emotional journeys throughout the play.
That being said I must applaud the work of Eleanor Lind Booton who did an absolutely fantastic job at portraying Ralph. I was often frustrated because I could see so much potential for brilliance and I felt she was often let down by some really questionable staging; for example the way in which she crawled lugubriously forward towards the bear at the end of the play. This really detracted from the moment for me.
That being said, her acting was mostly very honest, sometimes moving, and most definitely interesting to watch. She has a real stage presence which I felt was often caged in by the static blocking. Indeed, I would have liked to have seen all the actors move about the stage and express their emotions through movement a bit more. The staging fell between the two extremes of being invariable (for Eleanor Lind Booton and Rachel Weiss spent much of the play glued to the spot) or constantly active (Xelia Mendes-Jones spent much of the play shuffling about which was very distracting and spoiled some moments of excellent acting).
The poor direction and at times patchy acting was set against a provocative and effective backdrop by set designer Rashmi Uddin. Although I didn’t understand the huge line of ‘salt’ dividing the stage. It didn’t add anything to the production and didn’t seem to serve a purpose.
I know this review seems harsh, but I don’t want to patronise these students and go easy just because they are freshers. I can see lots of potential and hopefully they will only go onwards and upwards from here.
This is a learning environment after all, and you can’t learn without criticism.