Marcello Chiarenza with Patrick Lynch
A Lyngo and Lyric Hammersmith Production
Pleasance Theatre, Islington, and touring
Snow Play is a 40 minute piece aimed at the little ones, say from three years old to the end of infant school, and a pleasure for grown ups too who can enjoy sharing something that is simple and direct.
Tall Carlo Rossi is tramp-like looking Mr White. He's dozing on a chair centre stage when the audience enter but wakes up and waves at them from the other side of the French windows, mouthing words we cannot hear. The kids who wave back are in for a treat for there is plenty of opportunity for the confident to participate in the action and those who are shy won't be pushed into doing anything: they can sit back and enjoy it - though even they seem to enjoy getting into a snowball fight before things are over.
In fact Mr White soon comes out and gives everyone some snow. But it isn't his house. . It's the home of Mr Green (lively Patrick Lynch, the straight man to Rossi's oddball). And now he comes back from his holidays. At first he thinks he must have gone to the wrong house but it is certainly his Christmas tree in the garden. How is Mr Green (or Mr Scream or Mr Ice Cream as Mr White calls him) going to get White to leave, or at least to stop him and his audience helpers from bringing more and more of cold winter indoors?
Spring comes at last, with flowers and a butterfly, but not before there has been lots of snow fun and Mr White goes back north taking winter with him.
Snow Play works because its mime and surreal symbolism are so direct and because Rossi and Lynch are skilled performers who gauge their audience perfectly and have them joyfully co-operating in creating the occasion. .Lynch doesn't need to ask the audience to tell him what Rossi is doing while his back is turned; they spontaneously shout out that he isn't keeping still but moving, as he performs a dancing perambulation sideways. Directed and designed by Chiarenza, with accompanying music by Cialdo Capelli, it really is delightful .
"Snow Play" ends at Pleasance Theatre Islington 1st June, plays Salisbury Playhouse 2nd June and will be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe 2011.
Reviewer: Howard Loxton