The Snow Beast

Jack Dean
Scratchworks Theatre Company
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth

Sian Keen and Alice Higginson-Clarke as Faina and Maude
Exam judges - The Snow Beast
Sian Keen and Alice Higginson-Clarke as Faina and Maude

Exeter-based Scratchworks Theatre Company continues to delight with a science-packed tale of derring-do, a perilous search for truth and much to learn.

The Seldomland Science Academy final exams are looming and orphaned Faina’s experiment has combusted.

Armed with an old, incomplete journal and with just three days to find a winning solution, she and adoptive mother Maude, the serene, talking owl, steal a hot air balloon and head for the snow-laden mountains to find the stuff of legends: the pickled herring-eating Snow Beast. And perhaps the answer to Faina's mother’s abandonment of her in a snowstorm as a baby.

The engaging storytelling is punctuated with folksy songs (by Lucie Treacher), puppetry, experiments and audience participation.

With banshee werewolves, bum jokes, playing footsy with judges, will-o-the-wisps, the drop of doom and glo-in-the-dark river monsters, there is plenty to amuse and inspire the young audience (6+ although at two hours 20 inclusive of an interval, that must depend on the stayability and snack intake of the younger end of the age group).

Sian Keen is the erstwhile Faina, who blossoms from shy, geeky pupil to intrepid, problem-solving adventurer under the wing of garrulous ‘reet fabby’ Maude (Alice Higginson-Clarke) while Laura Doble is almost everyone else and puppet-master general.

Fi Russell has designed a simple set with multipurpose boxes, foil mountains and atmospheric touches, while Chloe Benbow’s puppet design is simple and effective with the red-eyed, saw-faced, menacing wolf particularly impressive.

A pay-for booklet accompanies the show with some of Nathan Benjamin’s experiments repeated to try at home.

Reviewer: Karen Bussell

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