The Snow Queen, Theatre Review, Lyric Theatre, Belfast, November 27, 2022

By Conor O’Neill

Photography courtesy of Carrie Davenport

It’s getting nippy out, Black Friday adverts are still chiming, social media is full of memes stating ‘Every time you put up a Christmas tree Santa shoots an elf’; add to that my plus-one is running fashionably and infuriatingly late and all of this leaves me feeling decidedly less than festive.

Amidst the shuffle of The Lyric, kids ae getting their faces snapped by The Ulster Tatler, glasses are clinking as the grown-ups raise a toast and though I may be low on festive frivolities, 15 minutes later I’m somehow caught in the trap of that good old Christmas spirit. Hard not to really when The Snow Queen is in town.

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, writer and director Paul Boyd has brought a myriad of talents together to deliver his somewhat adapted version of Andersen’s classic.

The general gist is this: an idyllic village somehow produces the best flowers in the world. Grandmother Rose (Christina Nelson) sells her abundance of flowers by 9am every morning with the help of her granddaughter Gerda (Calla Hughes) and local delivery boy Kia (Ben McGarvey) ensures they’re shipped all across the globe. But like every good tale there must be a twist. And believe me Boyd’s pen manages many of them. Kai has wanderlust, the idyllic life is boring to him, and this desire to travel could well be the undoing of the village.

*above, Kai, Grandmother Rose, Gerda and villagers*

The Snow Queen (Ruby Campbell) dwells in The Very North and her presence is there to create balance between good and evil, light and dark. In Kai’s weakness she has her angle. One night a cold wind blows and in the morning Kai is nowhere to be found. This heralds Gerda’s adventure and the plot really begins.

Gerda travels from the safety of the village and follows footprints in the snow to a multitude of magical places, where she unwittingly stats to develop strange powers; there’s a family secret… With her somewhat dim companion Oakie (Christopher Finn) in tow she meets some enchanting characters on her way north to Finnmark. Captain Crow (Darren Franklin), The Prince (Aaron Halliwell), great aunts Heather and Pansy and Baa the reindeer, whose apercu has me scratching my head in wonder, all add to the story as Gerda goes forth to meet her fate.

*above, The Prince and Gerda*

Throughout all this adventure there are musical numbers to raise the roof. I’ve saw Nelson in a few performances before but never heard her sing. And what a set of pipes she has. Not to be outdone, both Hughes and Campbell have voices of angels, especially Campbell. The choreography is foot perfect too. What did surprise, and not in a good way was that the musical score was pre-recorded. For such a big Christmas show one would expect a live orchestra, but that little short cut alone does not take away from the performances of the entire cast.

A little note for parents: the plot may be a little too intricate for the very young to follow, but that’ll not stop them smiling. The set changes are minimal but when they’re made it’s done so with forceful dramatic effect.

*above, Gerda in the clutches of the Snow Queen*

All-in-all a grand night out with unforgettable scenes and a romping soundtrack with sizzling performances.

The Snow Queen runs up to and including December 31, 2022. For booking details visit or simply phone the box office on 02890 301081

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