Manchester Theatre Awards

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Youth Panel Review: The Snow Dragons

Lizzie Nunnery
InterACT Youth Theatre
The Lowry
02 April 2017

InterACT Youth Theatre have a long history with NT Connections, and for 2017 they bring The Snow Dragons to The Lowry’s Quays Theatre stage.

Lizzie Nunnery’s script skilfully combines fairytale magic with apocalyptic realism. A gang of eight children camping out on a hill may sound like the start of an Enid Blyton novel – and their comical play fighting and obsession with food could be straight out of one of her books – but the arrival of war in their village soon forces them to stop playing games and turn their hands to sabotage and survival.  

The small cast size means that even in the fifty minute running time, each character establishes and develops their own identity within the group. Foremost is the ringleader, Raggi, who in spite of being written as a female character is cast as male in this production – a decision I found disappointing, given the rarity of women being portrayed in leadership roles.

This production is a real ensemble effort, with each young performer getting plenty of stage time. There are some very confident young actors in the cast, with a good grasp of Nunnery’s sometimes old-fashioned, poetic turn of phrase. There is also plenty of well-executed comedy to lighten the sense of peril, as the characters bicker over trivial things.

There are occasional issues with clarity and volume, meaning that parts of dialogue are lost, but this occurs most often during the play’s musical pieces. Taking on the additional challenge of performing songs is brave, and the cast do their best, but in general these songs eat into the run time and arguably do little for the narrative. An exception is the lullaby – a touching moment that sees the children attempting to assume adult roles as they sing to comfort the youngest girl in the group.

Lighting is used effectively to create a threatening atmosphere, with torch light and shadowy figures lit from behind on the backcloth.

The dark, ambiguous ending of The Snow Dragons – which sees the children gathered together, sharing memories as their enemy looms nearer – is a moving and fitting one for our time. Isolated on a hill with only a few possessions and each other, these children are refugees separated from their families and longing for home.

Art has the power to provoke thought and change our perspective on the world and it’s great to see that NT Connections is giving that power to young people.

 

 

Reviewer: Georgina Wells

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