A hard-hitting story of danger, death and destruction is spoiled by poor direction and clunky staging in Vulture Theatre's production of Bryony Lavery's Frozen.
Telling the story of Rhona, a young girl who goes missing, we follow her mother Nancy (Maddie Wakeling), the girl's convicted killer Ralph (Jordan-Michael Tweddle) and a psychoanalyst, Agnetha (Georgina Whelehan) who is trying to work out what makes killers kill.
All three of their stories intertwine into what should become a heart-wrenching and emotional account of a terrible circumstance. Unfortunately, the raw emotion just doesn't filter into the action of this piece and what the audience are left with is a great story poorly told.
There are many scenes in this production that could have tears easily streaming down the cheeks of every audience member, both through the pain of the action and from hidden black comedy in the script. However, many of these moments are missed by the company. A very deep and macabre scene where Nancy is stood holding her daughter's eroded remains is passed over in seconds and the face-off between the mother and the killer has as much poignancy as a slightly creepy job interview.
The whole piece feels very deflated with a lot of monotonic vocals and repetitive direction. Having all three characters on stage for most of the piece either sitting or standing on the light-up ice cubes that scatter the stage does distract at times from the more poignant monologues too.
What is lost in depth of character and story is made up for in the number of sound and lighting cues that punctuate the piece continually. Some of the soundscapes are beautifully created but the vast number of them distract from the story that is being played out on the traverse stage.
Tweddle's portrayal of serial killer Ralph Wantage in the final scenes of this play is the one shining light in this production. His journey from sadistic killer to broken man is stunningly played out and does draw the audience in, if a little late in the story.
Vulture Theatre has chosen a great play in Bryony Lavery's Frozen but the product of their labours doesn't quite do the subject matter the justice it deserves.
Reviewer: Liam Blain