Katherine MacAlister reviews Snowflake at OFS.

I will be thinking about Mike Bartlett’s debut for some time to come, it’s pressing message impossible to ignore whatever your creed, colour, age, sexuality or Brexit stance.

Because all that we hold dear, our most articulate and private thoughts, beliefs, insecurities and foibles are thrown into the ring in this, the local Oliver Award-winning playwright’s Christmas debut, Snowflake.

That he has chosen Oxford’s Old Fire Station to present this ground-breaking work is a gift, as Bartlett pins down the myriad of emotions we experience over Christmas. And so expectation rages against reality, domesticity against over-familiarity, parental boundaries against teenage nouse and hope against morality.

It’s an emotional cauldron Bartlett has brewing away in this innocuous-seeming three-hander set in Oxford, as a father (played by Eliot Levey) waits for his daughter Maya (Ellen Robertson) to reappear, reassessing what caused her to leave two years ago.

We sympathise, we empathise, we grieve with him.

But as with all Mike Bartlett’s work, TV’s Doctor Foster his most recent example, all is not as it seems. And as Natalie (Racheal Ofori) inadvertently gatecrashes his lonely party for one, in so doing stealing the show, to set up for a family gathering, she plays devil’s advocate, holding up a mirror to his implacable side, causing him to rethink, requestion and finally to apologise.

And yet there are two sides to every story, which Bartlett brandishes with relish, as generations and viewpoints clash. Yes we should listen to the young, but doesn’t wisdom and age count for anything?

As the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future pointed out so accurately in Dicken’s Christmas Carol, the consequences of impetuous decisions left to fester are life-defining, and Snowflake’s modern morality tale had me weeping like a baby as I reflected, reconsidered and rejoiced in equal measure.

So go, take everyone you know, and if you have teenagers, insist, because this is just the beginning of the road for Snowflake.

On until Dec 22. oldfirestation.org.uk 5/5