THE FROZEN SCREAM
Birmingham Hippodrome, Thursday 8th January, 2015
In a new departure for the Hippodrome, the Patrick Centre – usually home to dance productions – is being used to stage a play. While the pantomime extravaganza is still having it large in the main house, this is a chance for a more intimate experience and – well, it turns out to be quite an experience.
Unfortunately for reviewers, the play is one of those pieces we daren’t say too much about for fear of spoiling it for those who see it after us. I will give you a taste of the set-up, though.
It’s 1928, and bright young hedonists Tony (Andrew Dowbiggin) and Madeline (Anna Andresen) are on their way to a fancy dress party at a house, a very big house in the country. A fall of snow maroons them in a disused hunting lodge and presently they are joined by other lost partygoers. There is predatory lesbian Jinty (Victoria John) and upper class twit Roger (Christopher Green – who also directs and co-wrote the script). It’s all cut-glass accents and bad behaviour, until mysterious events, um, eventuate… I don’t want to go into it, but this cod potboiler delivers laughs and chills by the bucketful. Barney George’s set, all antlers, dust covers and icicles, along with lighting by Katy Morison and effects by Oliver Meech, all help the cast create an atmosphere of suspense and dread…
The script by Green and novelist Sarah Waters keeps the surprises coming. I fear I’m spoiling it by saying there are surprises in it. Expect the unexpected, I will say and, to echo a recurring line from the play, “Trust no one.”
Oh, and the fabulous Rula Lenska is in it, bringing a touch of class to the proceedings as Lady Agatha.
It all adds up to a hugely entertaining piece of theatrical cleverness. Truly sensational – in the literary sense of the term, The Frozen Scream is something new for the Hippodrome and I hope heralds a renaissance of smaller-scale productions in one of the country’s largest theatres.