Thus starts Anatomical’s Snowed In. The cast of four don’t patronise their young audience by pretending to be children; rather Deepraj Singh dreamily ambles onto the set, which is dominated by three large windows looking out onto snow-covered mountains, and starts telling the story of his snowbound childhood days.
He summons his friends: Annie Kelleher, Lisa Chearles Ming Huey and Andy Gardiner, and together they set about remembering and reenacting their What If? games.
Each What If? is mimed and danced in vigorous expansive movement that captures the attention. They build a snowman, they roam in the forest, and finally they reach their greatest creation: The Magnificent Winter Feast Hotel.
The show is carefully constructed so that the children’s imagination is constantly stimulated. They are asked to imagine the hotel’s various areas: the kitchen, the guest room, the library…
And at points where their attention might flag, they are asked to take part. So, Andy Gardiner declares half the theatre 'hotel guests'; the other half 'the staff'. Each half is asked to respond to specific questions and calls, and they do, loudly and excitedly.
There’s a feast followed by a clamour for ‘Pudding!’ which they’re asked to join in with.
And there’s a recurring mystery to keep us guessing: Room Zero, which nobody has ever entered.
As we reach the end, some children and any willing adults are drafted onto the stagefor a little dance with the performers; and it all ends in massive snowball fight, with ‘hotel guests’ and ‘staff’ lustfully pelting each other, and indeed the performers, with fake wintry missiles.
If pressed, I’ll admit to having myself throw one or two snowballs…
Anatomical, led by award-winning dancer/choreographers Anna Williams and Tom Roden specialises in creating interactive family shows, that lead their young audiences to use their imagination.
Snowed In shows their experience in the genre: it is a very clever construct, blending carefully judged doses of speech and movement, and always focused on its audience; and it relies on a very engaging cast.
It’s only fair to say that a few of the children who attended the performance I was at seemed a little bemused by the whole thing; but the vast majority looked and sounded as if they were having a great time.
Recommended for ages 5+ and with a very manageable duration of 60 mins
|What||Anatomical, Snowed In review|
|Where||The Place, 17 Duke's Road, London, WC1H 9PY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Euston (underground)|
14 Dec 22 – 24 Dec 22, Varying starting times. Consult website. Dur.: 60 mins (TBC)
|Price||£14 (concessions £12; child £8)|
|Website||Click here to book|