Mike Bartlett
Fictional Theatre
Kiln Theatre

Elliot Levey Credit: Manuel Harlan
Elliot Levey and Amber James Credit: Manuel Harlan
Elliot Levey and Ellen Robertson Credit: Manuel Harlan

Snowflake is one of the more unlikely Yuletide offerings. Although the events depicted play out on Christmas Eve, that is almost coincidental, although the timing does help to strengthen the sentiment.

The impression may be mistaken but this piece, which stretches to around 110 minutes, feels like something that started out as a taut 60-minute drama before a director or producer suggested that, in order to find a theatre, it would be necessary to double the length.

Before the interval, Elliot Levey’s self-pitying Andy witters on interminably, while saying absolutely nothing. All that we learn in over half an hour is that his wife died of cancer and his teenage daughter ran away.

After a surprise to bring down the half-time curtain, the evening develops into a fascinating debate about generational differences, the state of the nation and our inability to communicate despite the advance of technological crutches that supposedly facilitate the process.

Allowing for all of this, there is an issue in that, despite the acting skills of Mr Levey, Andy is a genuinely unsympathetic character, self-obsessed and frankly rather boring.

Even so, he almost meets his match in young Natalie played by Amber James. She is a motormouth who even manages to shut up the maudlin, middle-aged loser desperately hoping, much against the odds, that his lost daughter will return full of sweetness and light.

The pair quickly end up at each other’s throats, embarking on the kinds of entrenched arguments that have divided the nation over the last three years, before a relatively predictable twist changes the balance of the evening.

The arrival of Ellen Robertson playing the part of Andy’s daughter Maya is much-needed.

Although she is quietly inarticulate, the pain that she feels and expresses overrides almost everything has gone before, even making one feel at least a small degree of sorrow for her hopeless father.

By the end of an evening directed by Clare Lizzimore that could easily have started one minute before the interval, audience members will have been left with enough material to provoke some serious debates and arguments, which is a pretty good reason for going to a theatre.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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