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Review of Blueprint Theatre Company’s FROZEN at Park Theatre

Frozen at Park TheatreIt’s more than sixteen years since Frozen was first performed so it’s fair to question whether it is still a relevant play. The opening monologues felt stylised and the subject matter of the disappearance and death of a school girl and an unrepentant serial killer is abundant in popular culture. I even wondered whether the science would feel dated. But for me, as it developed, this production had a freshness and compassion that I found very moving.

Even though occasionally the language does seem a little dated, there is a contemporary feel to the direction and director Ian Brown keeps the pace alive and works the split scenes effortlessly. There were many small flourishes to enjoy that didn’t distract from the play, but kept the monologues alive – the use of Tibetan Prayer flags, the silent but ever vigilant Guard, and beautiful work from the lighting and sound designers that keep a lightness and depth to this play that draws you into the story.

There’s a clean understated performance from Sally Grey, as Nancy, the grieving mother – neither overplaying nor leaving us unaffected. Helen Schlesinger gives an intelligent nuanced performance, as Agnetha, the psychiatrist struggling with her own grief and remorse. Mark Rose is suitably sinister and disturbing as Ralph, and manages to elicit both anger and compassion from the audience.

This production finds the humour where it can in such a dark subject matter and its strongest argument is that it removes the sensationalist drama from the incident and instead shows us the long term consequences of grief and remorse – and reminds us to think beyond tabloid headlines and investigate the root causes of behaviours, to think about whether evil really exists and to question what we can and should be forgiven for. It’s a huge hearted play that reminds us that we can be better than we know. If I had a criticism it is that at times the staging seemed to forget audience sightlines – so grab a front row seat if you can.

4 stars

Review by Roz Wyllie

Blueprint Theatre Company in association with Park Theatre presents FROZEN By Bryony Lavery
Cast: Helen Schlesinger (Agnetha), Mark Rose (Ralph), Sally Grey (Nancy) and Liam Timms (Guard).
Director: Ian Brown; Designer: Jason Southgate
Lighting Designer: Charlie Lucas; Sound Designer: Gareth McLeod
Park90 18th March – 11th April 2015
https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/

Read our recent interview with Helen Schlesinger

On April 17th 1980 my daughter, Rhona, walked out of my house to go to her Grandma’s house. She never got there. She never came back. She was 10. For 20 years after her disappearance, Nancy keeps hope alive by imagining her daughter growing up and founding a group to help trace missing children. Then a man is arrested and Rhona’s remains are found.

Frozen is a profound and hypnotising drama about the moral and emotional effect of murder on both the perpetrator and his victims. Bryony Lavery has laid bare the horror of a child taken before their time and the aftermath that those left behind must deal with. The play places its three characters – a mother, a child killer and a psychiatrist – under the microscope and rewards us with a sense of understanding and release.

As a complement to the play, the theatre will also host a free exhibition from 23rd February to 11 April entitled Angels Fighting Devils which explores some of the issues raised in Bryony Lavery’s Frozen: those of protection, fear and violence. Through a series of works, from artists including Rob Bidder, Stewart Cliff, Jo Gifford, Dianne Minnicucci, Freya Pocklington and Ellen van de Graaf, the exhibition explores the emotional impact of murderous crime and the dark worlds created as part of a parental need to safeguard children. It concludes in an exploration of the child’s own perception of ‘Stranger Danger’ and what is ‘safe’ or ‘normal’.

Friday 20th March 2015

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