This is not a review, because the show is not offered for review until its transfer to Birmingham in January.
I went because I had heard about its development. And hell, Rula Lenska is a second-cousin of my late mother’s bridesmaid . Apparently.
It is therefore my duty to follow her career…
So: 1) Here’s the public domain information:
The play is said to be based on a lost 1928 supernatural murder-mystery novel by CC Gilbert, about a group of bright young things on the way to a fancy-dress ball, stranded in an abandoned lodge in winter. Some are dressed as Jack Frost, but one of them has Norwegian blood and tells them that Jack, the old Frost Giant, is not a cosy pixie but an ancient and malign giant. Odd things happen. A Mousetrappy murder-mystery-backstory is going on, but so is – aaaghhh! something else. Something lethal.
The idea delighted Sarah Waters, mistress of period and sometimes spooky novels, and Christopher Green, theatremaker, entertainer and cabaret star. They also enjoy the tale that the book fell out of print because of a curse (people kept meeting icy deaths). So they worked together on this adaptation, possibly hoping for a curse to liven things up. Green directs, and also joins the cast of six. Or maybe seven. Or six. Or five. Never you mind.
2) Having seen it, I can say:
– The makers warn you not to bring under-16s, to wear warm clothes and sensible shoes, and leave large bags in the cloakroom.
I would add, be reasonably physically able, with a bladder that lasts two hours.
– There is absolutely no point expecting a production directed by Christopher “Office Party” Green to remain sedately inside a proscenium arch. There really isn’t. You knew that, didn’t you? Just because Barney George has created a conventionally detailed creepy 1920’s set, don’t settle back and start on your Maltesers.
– Nor is there any point expecting Sarah Waters to resist a teeny weeny lesbian subplot. Rather sweet.
– Rula Lenska’s entrance(s) are – um – unusual. That is one game lady. What a trouper. I am proud to be related to her by way of maternal-bridesmaid-cousinship.
– The Millennium Centre front of house staff are resourceful, patient and trustworthy. Probably.
– Beware the ice. Not the rice, or the mice. The ice.
– There is no interval yet there is a drink of mulled wine. Work it out.
In Weston Studio (sorry, Stiwdio) at the Milllennium Centre to 20 Dec, with matinees – tel 029 2063 6464 http://www.wmc.org.uk
7-17 Jan at birminghamhippodrome.com