Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Youth Panel Review: It Snows

Bryony Lavery
Octagon Connections
Bolton Octagon
11 May 2016 to 12 May 2016

In It Snows by Bryony Lavery, a dull town and its teenage inhabitants are overwhelmed by an overnight fall of snow – an everyday act that this production by Octagon Connections transforms into a fairytale of magical realism.

Chiefly narrated by its two central characters, Cameron Huntley and Caitlin Amoretti, It Snows initially focusses on common teenage woes: crushes, gangs of bullies, rowing parents and painful social interactions.

All of these problems are swept away – or temporarily covered – by the snow, which this production proves can be portrayed in a clever and beautiful way (even without a West End budget). A gentle piano score soundtracks the characters playing in the snow, while the gangs strip off their different coloured shirts so that everyone is briefly dressed the same. White umbrellas hang closed like icicles, before being opened out and rolled along the stage to depict snowballs.

There are plenty of comic moments, particularly in the party scene, which sees its host become so panicked by the amount of damage her guests are causing that she ends up throwing them out. There is also poignancy in the isolation of the ‘weird girl,’ who sits at her window all day before throwing out a message asking for help attached to her teddy bear. Unfortunately, her predicament is never fully explained and a potentially interesting storyline is left unexplored.

The set consists of several large pieces, including the girl’s window frame, a scaffolding tower and several blocks. The cast perform their own set changes, working well together – their teamwork is also evident in smooth transitions between sections of crosscut dialogue.

The best thing about this production though is the sheer sense of joy that Octagon Connections manage to convey in the play’s key moment – exactly the feeling that everyone can relate to on waking as a child and seeing fresh snow.

Reviewer: Georgina Wells