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Christmas Family Theatre Review of 'Snow White & Rose Red' now on at the Battersea Arts Centre until 30 December 2017.

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LocalEditorMerton Tue 05-Dec-17 13:16:36

Now on Battersea Arts Centre - BAC - until 30 December. Buy tickets here: goo.gl/VVQZtQ

Snow White & Rose Red is a joyous and delightfully energetic Christmas cracker of a caper. It's heart-warming festive family theatre at its most entertaining for 'children' young and old. Bursting with memorable tunes (from folksy harmonies to power ballads, with a nod to singing styles from decades past and present), comedic touches both slapstick and satirical, contemporary cultural issues, a 'mashup' of fairy tale plots and a twist on traditional panto devices, it's a two hour (including interval) riotous 'romp' of a rollercoaster ride as our two feisty heroines ('women' not girls) go on a fraught quest spurred on by love.

A fairy story within a fairy story and seasonal as a tale that includes snow, a character called Snow Angel, a villain with a frozen heart and a countdown to Christmas Eve (when the story reaches its thrilling denouement) could be, what more could we ask for in family entertainment to suit the festive season? With a panto villain called Graham (a very small man with a very long beard - echoes of Rumpelstiltskin anyone?), a hero prince dressed in bear's clothing (Beast?), the OTT panto dame role a larger than life but silent elf, and not one but two older (thirtysomething rather than teenage) heroines doing their own thing, this is a superbly and successfully subversive seasonal show that truly will bring a warm glow to your heart.

The cast of just six - the super talented RashDash Company - had a synergy that suggests a group of like-minded friends with a very deep bond having a hoot of a time together, quite aside from professionally entertaining audiences as super-skilled storytellers and songsters too! Acting and singing seemingly from their hearts and souls, the energy this small troupe brought to the stage filled us with a warm and cosy festive feeling bringing Christmas cheer to an otherwise dull, damp, drizzly December day. Their talent shone through the entirety of the show like a star of wonder, star of light.

Particular praise to be lavished on the musical side of the production which was so powerfully uplifting (ranging from the folksy, to an otherworldly tune or two and to more contemporary style songs) that it could have quite easily stood alone as a concert without the accompanying storyline. All members of @RashDash played their own instruments as well as acting and singing. The songs and music of this production of 'Snow White & Rose Red' were very different to the usual hammy interpretations of much-loved pop songs and panto-specific numbers.

This production really is a marvellously magical and multi-layered mash-up on every level. From musical and literary influences and plot devices, there are creative and artistic 'borrows' as diverse as Dahl, Disney, The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls', The Hunger Games, Lewis Carroll and even Game of Thrones, providing cultural references with relevance across the generations making up the audiences. We roughly know where the plot will lead us: to 'happy ever after', by way of danger, malevolence, mishaps, adventure, treachery and bravery (and a true love's kiss). Yet this story within a story, including more than passing nods to Beauty & the Beast, The Snow Queen, Snow White & Rose Red and even Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin, means that we are watching a 'hybrid' which keeps us guessing as to how the strands of the story will come together, and then wrong-foots us some by the very contemporary take on the denouement (to say more would spoil the surprise!).

Audience interaction was encouraged and willingly given. From sniggers and giggles at the 'bottom' humour , to clapping along, to some "Oh no you can't! Oh yes you can!" moments, it was obvious that the audience was having a ball. Willing children were invited up onto the stage to dance with the cast in the grand finale as they sang along to the closing 'Families' show tune. There was even some spontaneous post-show playing with fallen snow confetti (in the absence of the real thing outside!) which was just lovely to behold.

We have enjoyed many shows as a family but have found, as the children have grown to adolescence, that it's increasingly a challenge to find theatre that truly ticks all the boxes. 'Snow White and Rose Red' is that rarity, and so much enjoyed by all of us that we may just fit in another trip to see it with extended family members before its BAC Christmas run is up. Whatever one's age (except for toddlers who may find a few scenes frightening), this Snow White & Rose Red production is guaranteed to leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling - an inner glow even - encapsulating joy, happiness and goodwill; surely the very essence of what Christmas is all about? Enjoy!

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