Snowflakes at the Old Red Lion

Photo credit: Charles Flint Photography. Robert Boulton, Niamh Finlay and Henry Davis pictured (from L-R)

Originally due to run in 2020, Snowflakes finally opened at the Old Red Lion this week, where it will be running until 16th October. I was really surprised when I discovered this is Robert Boulton’s debut play as a playwright, as there is a confidence and natural dark humour to the piece that I’d associate with a more experienced writer. This deftly written and multi-layered play makes for fascinating viewing. My only quibble would be it could be tightened in places, particularly where some sermonising sneaks in. Boulton should trust in the drama of the situation he has created to land the message without explicitly spelling things out. But that is it quibble wise. This is an accomplished piece of writing by Boulton and I would be front of the queue to see his next play.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, as there is a lot to be enjoyed in watching it unfurl. All I will say is that this will appeal to fans of Pinter, Ridley and TV shows like Black Mirror. The cast are brilliant throughout. Boulton (yes he acts too) gives a delightfully unhinged and passionate performance as Marcus. Niamh Finlay adds wonderful nuance to the character of Sarah, hers is the central role in terms of character development and Finlay brings a delicious subtlety to her, making her evolution all the more convincing. Henry Davis is delightfully enigmatic as Tony, you get the sense of the entitled celebrity writer who thinks he is the smartest person in any room.

Michael Cottrell’s sophisticated direction powerfully brings to life the dystopian world of the play. The balance between the different actors’ performances is perfectly calibrated. Alys Whitehead’s design is a delight, with a set that effectively integrates digital elements in a way that enhances rather than distracting (always a risk with video projections, but brilliantly executed here). While Jonathan Chan’s lighting design further enhances the atmosphere of the piece.

Snowflakes is a dark, funny, violent (really, not for those who are sensitive to violence) and intelligent show, with a fascinating premise at its heart. One that feels disturbingly possible given the current state of society, I just hope it doesn’t give anyone ideas! As an everyday member of society, how far would you be willing to go to punish powerful people you believe are getting away with despicable acts?

Snowflakes is running at The Old Red Lion Theatre until Sat 16th October. To book tickets or find out more, you can go here: https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/Snowflakes.html

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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