Beautiful, mysterious but with a tantalising touch of terror, The Snow Queen is one of our best loved fairy tales.

Penned by the master storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, it’s an enchanting tale of friendship, longing and danger among the crystalline frozen landscapes of the Far North.

That sense of purity, magic and menace is brought to spectacular life by Oxford’s Creation Theatre company in their Christmas production, on at The North Wall arts centre.

Never ones to shy away from the terrifying and macabre or to downplay the fabulously sumptuous, Creation’s creative team have found their perfect play – and it is everything you’d expect.

It tells the story of Gerda, who journeys to the frozen north to search for her friend Kai from the lair of the Snow Queen. Along the way she encounters vicious cannibal robbers, and must contend with a fast river which threatens to engulf her, and a host of strange talking animals and crows. A Disney-esque ‘Frozen’, this is not!

“It’s strange, dark and very weird,” says Lucy Askew, Creation Theatre’s Chief Executive.

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“Our version of The Snow Queen is very faithful to the Hans Christian Andersen original. It sits in that fairytale legacy of The Brothers Grimm and Andersen, which means that some of the themes and the scenes can be quite dark, but it’s really harking back to a time when we didn’t protect our children against the world by monitoring where their phone is, limiting what they can look at or installing CCTV everywhere.

Oxford Mail:

“It belongs to a legacy of storytelling that is designed to prepare your children for a potentially dangerous world, to make their own judgements about who is good and who is bad, who they can trust and who is fake.”

Annabelle Terry stars as the heroine Gerda, while Bart Lambert is Kai – but also a talking crow and a robber (there is much doubling up in this show... at times to an hilarious extent).

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The queen is Natasha Rickman –and also a crow and robber, necessitating some deft costume and makeup work.

James Burton plays the wizard and prince and Veronica Beatrice Lewis is the grandma and four other parts – including a hedgehog.

The costumes are wonderful and fascinatingly creative. The hedgehog, for example, has a backpack made of cable ties.

Oxford Mail:

The production, written and directed by Creation Christmas show regular Gari Jones, also has a live musician, the similarly named composer and songwriter Gareth Jones – who once performed onstage at Glastonbury with indie-rockers The Zutons.

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Music is a big part of the show – ranging from dreamy to big song and dance numbers and full-on rave.

Lucy goes on: “This adaptation is particularly good for older kids and teenagers – although of course younger children will enjoy the spectacular song and dance numbers.

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“There’s not much theatre work aimed at teenagers and one of the nicest things for us is to see them come through the doors, engage with the story and really enjoy it. If you do have teenagers, and it’s hard to know what to do with them at Christmas, this is a really good option.

Oxford Mail:

“But it’s very much a show which is designed to appeal to adults as much as children. You sit close to the stage and there’s great pace and chemistry.

“This is one we all love and are really enjoying it – so we really hope people get into the festive spirit and come along. After all, Christmas goes so quickly, so grab the opportunity!”

The company have a reputation for presenting classic stories in a new light, though The Snow Queen is true to the classic.

Lucy adds: “It is surprisingly close, but it’s an odd story to begin with. The weirdest bits in the show are straight out of the original. In fact we’ve toned it down!”

Creation Theatre are renowned for their use of unusual venues, which have included the BMW factory, Westgate, Blackwell’s bookshop and Oxford University mathematics department as well as college gardens and the University Parks.

Next year will see them staging Bleak House back at Blackwell’s Norrington Room, and The Time Machine at the London Library.

In recent years, however, they have staged their Christmas shows at The North Wall, part of St Edward’s School.

“We are based in Oxford but don’t have our own building, so use different venues,” says Lucy.

“But at Christmas we like to retreat into the theatre with its heating.

Oxford Mail:

“The North Wall is such a fantastic resource for all of us in Oxford and we’ve changed the seating and set again; we always start with ‘what can we do so that when you walk in and it feels totally different to previous years’.

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“The tradition should be coming to see a Creation show each Christmas, but not knowing what to expect from the space or the story.

“The North Wall really is probably the best theatre in Oxford. It’s a hugely versatile space, with comfy seating, a bar and is very well run.

“They have an incredible programme all year round, it’s a privilege for us to sit within it for a few weeks at Christmas.”

  • The Snow Queen is at The North Wall arts centre, South Parade, Oxford, until January 5. Go to 
  • Oxford Mail: