By: Su Carroll, TRP Reviewer
The Drum audience, mainly excitable youngsters, are waiting for The Snow Beast to start and the roll call is being taken. “Is there a Daniel here? No? Is there a Michael? There’s always a Michael!” But there is a much bigger response to the question: “Who likes science?” And a forest of hands springs into the air. Most of us (even the grown-ups!) like science, it seems.
So it’s fortuitous that we are at the Seldomberg Science Fair where young Faina is excited about her experiment which she hopes the judges will rate A+++. All is going well until a mishap when the precious work goes up in flames. What to do now? Luckily her owl companion, Maude, persuades the stern science competition judges to allow them more time to come up with something that will bring her the grade she wants.
Let’s experiment! Let’s go on an adventure!
Scratchworks was founded in 2013 in Exeter and they certainly know what audiences want. This show was originally performed in 2018 in association with Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre and it has the feeling of something that is well-polished but remains spontaneous.
There’s a Scandi vibe to the story of Faina’s decision to try and find the mythical Snow Beast – it involves an arduous trek through the cold mountains in treacherous conditions. It’s a tough emotional journey too, because this is where she believes her mother, Julia, abandoned her. Mother and daughter shared a great love of science but Julia’s loss is keenly felt by Faina, although Maude’s owl hugs do help.
The story is a backdrop for some experiments along the way – fun ways to discover what happens when certain chemicals are mixed, how wind can move objects and the safest way to cross a chasm, for example.
There are lots of folksy songs (music is by Lucie Treacher), some simple but effective scenes, comedy, puppetry and a moment when the audience gasped aloud in unison.
Written by Jack Dean, Snow Beast is aimed at 6+ but it seemed to be the slightly older children who were fidget-free for the whole 115 minutes.