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Fun, eccentric and entertaining - The Snow Queen at the Cambridge Junction review

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The robbers get musical Pictures: Claire Haigh (43638465)
The robbers get musical Pictures: Claire Haigh (43638465)

One of the many things my family looks forward to each year is the Christmas show at the Cambridge Junction.

They’re always original, filled with wonderful music and are laced with enough humour to keep both children and adults thoroughly intoxicated.

The performances are often quirky, always intimate and, for us as a family, provide a little kick-start to getting into the Christmas spirit.

But like many of our planned family activities (we're still in mourning for the loss of our California holiday), coronavirus has made its presence felt.

The Junction’s live show is not to be this year and instead we’re presented with the chance to stream this year’s offering, The Snow Queen, from the safety of our own home.

It’s still original - it’s been created by New International Encounter, the company behind one of our recent favourites, Beauty and the Beast - and it’s not trying to be a film (a plus point in our house); it’s more of a hybrid, a film with the feel of a live performance.

Gerda on her travels in The Show Queen Pictures: Claire Haigh
Gerda on her travels in The Show Queen Pictures: Claire Haigh

And it works. Many of the elements that define a Junction Christmas show take centre stage (or should that be screen?). The quirky characters, the humour, the fun and the original music and songs are all present as we follow Gerda (Natisha Williams-Samuels) on her mission to rescue her friend Kaj (Joey Hickman) from the evil Snow Queen (Stefanie Muller).

The action flits between the great outdoors and an assortment of wooden structures for the indoor scenes. There’s nothing fancy about the locations or scenery, but why would there be as this is, after all, a play?

What drives along this rescue story are the cast of characters who help Gerda with her mission. There’s ogres in novelty slippers (and an ogre band), crows, robbers and a reindeer on a tandem bicycle.

Each has an original musical number with catchy tunes and clever lyrics. The crows, dressed in academic robes and mortarboards were a particular favorite in our household, not only for their song but for the whole performance. Their attempts at trying to define the situation are comically unhelpful to Gerda’s cause. “Place. A popular flat fish often served fried with chips. Or peas,” one crow squawks.

Each ‘live’ scene abounds with character and humour. This, however, is lost somewhat when the action switches to animation for Gerda’s encounter with the Flower Witch. It’s put together nicely enough with a voiceover and music, but it lacks the energy which is so evident in the rest of the performance.

The Show Queen Pictures: Claire Haigh (43638475)
The Show Queen Pictures: Claire Haigh (43638475)

The animation just cannot compete with Alex Murdoch channelling her inner toddler as a robber girl, or Kieran Edwards and Abayomi Oniyide as ogres.

At 50-minutes long The Snow Queen is a quick watch and does require (as do all live performances) the ability to leave reality at the door as this is not a Hollywood movie with a seemingly unlimited amount of money to spend on special effects.

Enjoy The Snow Queen for what it actually is: Fun, eccentric and entertaining - and another fine performance by New International Encounter. The Junction’s unique take on a Christmas show lives on in 2020.

The Snow Queen is available to stream until January 3 at junction.co.uk. You can choose how much you would like to pay, with prices starting at £2.50 for a household. However, you can also choose to be more generous - it is Christmas.

The view from Elin, aged 7

“The Snow Queen is sad, happy and exciting all mixed together. It was very nice to watch.

I think the crows and the reindeer were the funniest.

The best bit about the show was that you can't predict it. I really liked it.”

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