Melt­ing hearts

BAR­BARA HODG­SON RE­VIEWS THE TER­MI­NAL VE­LOC­ITY OF SNOWFLAKES AT LIVE THEATRE

The Chronicle - - What’s On -

IT’S like sit­ting in­side a snow globe. That is my first im­pres­sion on tak­ing my seat in the up­stairs stu­dio theatre for this two-han­der de­but play by Nina Berry which is re­turn­ing to Live af­ter a sell-out open­ing run here last year.

I love its win­try stag­ing which has gi­ant snowflakes – ac­tu­ally more like snow­balls – sus­pended above a star­tlingly white set, with chang­ing light­ing ef­fects soon adding mag­i­cal golds or cold blues.

And the ‘girl’ we see on stage in the yel­low coat and ‘boy’ in blue with a bob­ble hat re­ally stand out against all that white­ness.

The play opens with Heather Car­roll and Daniel Wat­son play­ing – at this stage – chil­dren of seven and nine.

They’re hav­ing a first awk­ward meet­ing in Heaton Park where they cap­ture child­like won­der and shared ex­cite­ment at the world and the girl – who we even­tu­ally find out is called Rosie – tells the older Char­lie that no two snowflakes are the same.

Snow, as you might ex­pect from the ti­tle, fea­tures large in the play which, over its brief 80 minute-or-so run, sees the pair meet up again by ac­ci­dent when they are teenagers – ap­pear­ing more con­fi­dent but ac­tu­ally both lonely and un­cer­tain – then, for a third time, as young adults when they fi­nally get to­gether.

In be­tween we see them lead­ing sep­a­rate yet par­al­lel lives: Char­lie feel­ing fed up with in his job and re­la­tion­ships in New­cas­tle and Rosie ex­pe­ri­enc­ing much the same angst in Lon­don.

Both ac­tors bring real emo­tion to their over­bur­dened roles and they work to­gether well on the small stage: mov­ing to­gether phys­i­cally at points in the story when the lives of their char­ac­ters – at op­po­site ends of the coun­try – mir­ror each other.

And at key stages along the way there is a back­drop of fall­ing snowflakes. By the time they do even­tu­ally come to­gether, re­unit­ing at a New­cas­tle club in more of a mu­tual un­der­stand­ing than a fly­ing sparks mo­ment, the snowy back­ground adds a touch of magic as snow tends to do.

If the story ended there I’d have been

quite con­tent but the feel-good mo­ment soon passes.

There fol­lows a flurry – grow­ing into a storm – of sce­nar­ios about their fu­ture to­gether which, for me, felt more born of youth­ful fancy than real life ex­pe­ri­ence. I don’t want to give any­thing away but, while the lat­ter scenes didn’t con­nect emo­tion­ally with me, I did hear sev­eral snif­fles from the au­di­ence.

But then, we’re re­minded, these sce­nar­ios are just ‘pos­si­bil­i­ties’ and the story ends back at its start­ing point, with the first scene be­ing re­lived slightly dif­fer­ently.

Whether this sug­gests the cou­ple’s lives will play out with a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion to the one we saw, who knows, but I imag­ine au­di­ences dur­ing the play’s three and a half week run (un­til De­cem­ber 16) will be opt­ing for a fes­tive happy end­ing.

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