A cry that leaves you cold

frozen scream

The Frozen Scream

The Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome

***

THE Frozen scream is packed with ideas, so many ideas in fact that there is hardly space for any one of them to come to full fruition.

It’s a play, immersive theatre, a site specific production, a comedy, a thriller, a murder mystery and a ghost story. Unfortunately it is none of them long enough to either be appreciated or enjoyed.

It’s a shame as the basic premise is good but what it lacks is the directorial experience to understand the way an audience reacts and how to keep them occupied in both the theme and the mood of the piece.

We begin in a rustic old lodge in the dead winter back in 1928, when a group of partygoers become stranded in a snow storm. It all sounds and looks great for the first 15 minutes but just as we  have settled into a cosy, country house, ghost mystery the play is injected with an icy blast of tedious reality.

Without giving too much away the opening things just stop and a level of audience participation begins that is at best pedestrian and dreary.

From there the audience are led to and through a series of different theatrical experiences .None of these easily connect to one another or indeed seem related as by now the cast have not only broken the fourth wall but left the plot entirely and become the audience.

At the end of the evening things get really wacky and a bit Pythonesque before the final half-baked close is delivered.

Frozen Scream a joint Hippodrome production with Wales Millennium Centre, features an excellent cast but it’s difficult to pick out anyone as each part ends before anyone has a chance to shine.  For me the most effective part came with nothing but a group of talented performers in a rehearsal room and only  a few desk lamps for lighting who effectively create a few minutes of the end of original opening drama.

This is also the first and only time we get to see Rula Lenska deliver anything remotely that could be called acting and the few minutes we saw of her were really good. Typically though, just as it was all getting interesting, the theatre police moved us all on for loitering with intent to enjoy.  

This play, based on the work of CC Gilbert, is co-written by Sarah Waters and Christopher Green. As Green also directs and acts in the play it is maybe is one task too much for him and perhaps an independent director would have edited out many of the loose ideas and improved the sum of the parts.

On leaving  you are left with a Smorgasbord of a piece and nothing  to do but recall the tastiest bite but you are left hungry for more of whatever your chosen dish may have been.

It can be commended for an attempt at something very alternative but as it stands The Frozen Scream sets out to chill you but quickly melts into amusing chaos. To 17-01-15

Jeff Grant

08-01-15

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