The Creation Theatre crew can always be relied upon to keep us entertained with dark, quirky twists on familiar tales.

For their Christmas show at the North Wall, in Summertown, however, they didn’t need to. The Snow Queen, they insist, was already dark and quirky enough. Instead, they faithfully tell the tale of the child who is abducted by an icy Arctic monarch – but do so with such glacial cool that the end result is unmistakably Creation’s.

If you’ve had it with pantomime and Disney-esque children’s tales, this will come as an ice-cold blast of fresh air.

The staging is breathtakingly beautiful – performed in the centre of the theatre on a sparse set crowned by an enormous wreath of evergreen foliage.

The skeleton cast of six multi-tasking actors (including musician Gareth Jones) is superb and energetic, for this is a pacey production, despite its clean and spacious staging.

The story is simple but poetically embellished and interspersed with moments of great humour. The story may be as dark as the Polar night, but it’s great fun with plenty of silliness. The cast are worked hard but are genuinely having fun – throwing in some deft riffing and improvisation to keep things interesting.

The moments where the actors come out of character as Gerda (played brilliantly and with enormous feeling by Annabelle Terry) attempts to guess which animals her multi-tasking cast-mates are playing, have the audience in laughter.

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There is a merciful lack of clumsy ‘woke’ messaging; but then there doesn’t need to be.

Hans Christian Andersen may have written The Snow Queen a century and a half ago, but heroine Gerda is a bit of a feminist icon anyway – overcoming all odds in her efforts to find her friend Kai (the wonderfully expressive Bart Lambert, who we previously saw in Dracula at Blackwell’s) who is imprisoned in the queen’s frozen lair.

Oxford Mail:

Natasha Rickman is a perfect Snow Queen: elegant, glacially expressionless, hauntingly beautiful, chilling... yet vulnerable,a victim of her loneliness.

This mysterious folkloric world is realised through fabulous costume making – Creation’s wardrobe department again excelling themselves, whether through Gerda’s ragged version of a traditional Sami outfit, the Snow Queen’s crystalline headdress or the black feathered hats sported by the crows.

The hard-working and frequently funny Veronica Beatrice Lewis, who plays five roles including a convincing Caribbean grandma, is transformed into a hedgehog by the device of a rucksack embellished with cable ties. Now that’s creative!

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To say more would be to give too much away, and it is the gentle twists and surprises which propel this wonderful show along.

Perhaps Creation Theatre’s greatest strength here is to pull together a show which will genuinely appeal to anyone who has a little warmth in their heart – from young kids to adults.

This is a proper Christmas tale: silly and serious, light-hearted and dark, funny... but deliciously chilling!