Snow White Tobacco Factory Theatres Review:
Tobacco Factory Theatres
03/12/2019 at 7pm
Snow White is everything you want from a family show – comedy, storytelling, beautiful acting and messages from a fairy tale you actually want your children to take away. This is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the main Christmas show at Tobacco Factory Theatres, who are again working with New International Encounters and Cambridge Junction in this co-production.
Mike Tweddle is behind the script development and Rina Vergano the story development. This brings us a clever piece of writing that gleefully manages to jest alongside Bristol’s green credentials, whilst also having the firm message of friendship, forgiveness and inclusion at its heart.
It’s not as simple as the theme good versus evil, dinned into us from a young age. It’s more complicated than that and this multi-layered show emphasises this throughout.
An open heart yet personal boundaries, environmental concern, no walls and no borders were at the heart of Act Two, which featured a group of vegan Earth Burgers living deep in the forest. One particular speech at Snow White’s death about fear and hate, hung poignantly in the air in light of recent security events in London.
This interpretation of Snow White is recognisable as the original – with a spin on particular elements of the story to bypass all sorts of ethical difficulties the tale presents in 2019. It’s not the glitzy, glamorous saccharine affair those who have never been to the BS3 theatre before will expect after a life time of Disney. This is a folk tale. It’s Brothers Grimm territory – though perhaps a little more lighthearted. Clever lighting creates the shadows of trees stretching across the stage. Textiles wrap the set and costumes appear South Bristol charity shop chic.
Stefanie Mueller is the evil stepmother and queen. Spoilt, indulged and hung up on looks, this is a warning for the Insta-generation. We don’t have a traditional baddie to boo – although there’s plenty of audience interaction. Mueller’s menace comes from a quietly unhinged place that’s a bit scary, a bit funny but not altogether past the point of reform at the end with a good dose of left-wing forgiveness.
Jodie Davey is a natural, down to earth Snow White, rejecting the confining aspects of her stepmother’s claustrophobic and obsessive approach to beauty. She doesn’t swoon to her death. It’s completely undignified and packed with humour. There’s no dippy prince on had to save the day either. The resolution comes through friendship. It’s a beautiful and again humorous moment – with close personal boundaries.
The ensemble cast is packed with actor musicians – Joey Hickman, Alex Murdoch, Abayomi Oniyide and Richard De Winter – who not only play the Earth Burgers, but double up as a magical musical world within the famed Mirror. We get a surprising range of styles including jazz, reggae and a brilliant ‘Hamilton’ moment of rap.
There is so much theatre going on in Bristol at the moment, with Tobacco Factory Theatres being one of the three heavy-weight venues in the city. But yet again, this is a timeless production that shows the creatives have their fingers on the pulse of Bristol. It’s a show that manages to encompass the heart of the city whilst telling a story set in the days before Minecraft, WiFi and Xbox.
This show is guaranteed to create an abundance cheer suitable for the forthcoming festive season, a little more care about sorting out your recycling and some introspection about being kinder to people.
Snow White is at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 19 January 2020.
Age recommendation: Five years upwards
Approximate running time with an interval: Two Hours
BSL Interpreted Performances:
Thursday 12 December 1pm Schools Matinee
Friday 13 December 7pm
Wednesday 08 January 2020 6pm
Thursday 09 January 12pm
Performances specially adapted to create an even more welcoming environment for audiences with additional needs.
For more information or to book, visit: www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com
Photography by Mark Dawson Photography