Cambridge Junction tries its hand at the ‘new normal’ of theatre with a virtual performance of their Panto ‘The Snow Queen’. The show follows the story and journey of Gerda as she travels to find her friend, Kaj, who becomes disenchanted with the world the story is set in after getting a piece of mirror in his eye. Gerda begins meeting many characters who help her along the way to the Snow Queen, the ogres being a particular favourite of mine.
As expected, the first scene that played was, albeit, jarring, if only because the cast were creating the playful introductions commonly seen in Panto’s but outside Cambridge Junction. Without the lights and the stage it took some time to get used to but readers and viewers can be assured that the cast bring all of their energy they’d have on stage, if not more.
The transition to the main story of the performance was actually really organic, the camera work brought something to the performance that the stage, possibly, couldn’t have and all of these elements were really used to their full potential at every opportunity. Everything screamed ‘new’ and ‘creative’ and it was such a joy to see.
Seeing the outside world was so much fun and enchanting, if a little different to the regular ‘sets’ we’d see on stage. With this performance, you don’t have to imagine the trees are real because they really are! It was such a, excuse the pun, breathe of fresh air. Any limitations that film may create for this Panto were solved through animation segments which were really well done and kept me visually entertained.
The parcels sent along with the performances were really fun as well as they built that ‘bridge’ for viewers between the typical Panto interaction and the show, allowing for the young ones to still be a part of the performance as much as they would be if they were seated in the auditorium.
Seeing Kaj ‘grow up’ struck more of an emotional note with me than I thought it would. It brought me back to the days of my youth when everyone grew up really fast. The contrast of the ‘warmth’ and friendliness of youth in Gerda’s journey compared to the cold isolation of growing up with Kaj was really interesting to see and developed well. Navigating ‘growing up’ can be really tough and this Panto portrays that really well, as well as showing that it’s okay to still be ‘immature’ or ‘childish’ at times as long as it makes you happy.
On her journey, Gerda meets the ogres who, as I stated, were a particular favourite of mine. They bring that familiar and much-needed ‘campness’ back into the fold, making it feel like a staged panto. They’re over-exaggerations and humour made me chuckle out loud a few times and constantly put a smile on my face.
The crows, as well, did a really good job of this, their joke about the show ‘Lost’ instantly made me laugh. Their performance was really good and their vocal work was very creative, I think i’ll be singing ‘We Are The Crows’ around my living room for the rest of the day.
The robbers were fun as well, reminding me of the villains in ‘Home Alone’ which was really timely. Their enthusiasm never dipped and you could just tell that the actors were having the best time playing these characters.
The reindeer was also a favourite of mine, the accent really brought the character to life and the dry humour just really got to me, the use of the bike as a way of ‘flying’ was really ingenious and creative. The Finnish woman was a blast to see as well, if only brief, with her Panto-style exuberant performance alongside her touching narrative. I would’ve liked to have seen more of The Snow Queen herself but with so many characters the lack of her presence is understandable.
Overall, The Snow Queen gave me that ‘Panto-feel’ that I really needed, given everything going on right now. It was fun, campy and creative; the perfect recipe for a filmed panto. The team at Cambridge Junction really had fun with this and it shows in every frame. If you get the chance over the holidays to see it with your young ones and family members, be sure to check it out!