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Frozen | Greenwich Theatre

Frozen, which is written by Bryony Lavery and directed by James Haddrell, is a chilling play about a lost child and the ripple effect that her disappearance has on her mother whilst also exploring into the psychology of her kidnapper.  The play is split into two parallel storylines - Nancy (Kerrie Taylor) as she deals with the grief of losing her daughter and hoping she'll return, and of Ralph (James Bradshaw), the kidnapper, and Agnetha (Indra Ové) a criminal psychiatrist. Both stories stretch over a twenty year period, and gives an interesting premise of an exploration of both sides of Rhona's disappearance. 

Nancy's story is genuine, well-thought out and emotional. Nancy grieves the disappearance of her then 10-year old daughter for decades, often neglecting other family members, and beginning an organisation called Flame to help find other missing children. The constant tension she has with Ingrid (her other daughter), and the guilt and self-blame she carries with her about Rhona, combined with the still fresh grief and anger make for a strong and emotional arc. 

The latter plot, with Ralph and Agnetha, however, feels slightly underwhelming compared to Nancy's story. Agnetha, who has been researching criminals and serial killers, finds Ralph's psychopathic tendencies fascinating and bases most of her thesis on his behaviour. Whilst chilling, even disturbing at times, the plot lacks a real motive and is often weighed down further by exponential amounts of scientific jargon thrown at the audience. Using the stage and the audience as a creative tool for Agnetha's thesis presentation, these portions often lose the audience, especially with the monotone delivery. 

Ralph is a rather expressionless character, which whilst makes for an intriguing character analysis, doesn't quite make as much an impact on stage. The audience do learn a few interesting psychology facts, but within the context of the play, these feel like a ploy to try and redeem Ralph. Through a series of interviews and tests, we learn about Ralph's own horrifying childhood, yet it's hard to care much about him when we know why he's been imprisoned. 

Taylor gives a stand out performance, as we are taken on the journey of experiencing moments of grief. A mixture of loud outbursts and quiet moments of reflection compose most scenes but these are wonderful to watch and explore. The burden of the unknown feels visible in her refusal to clean Rhona's room and the inability to fully embrace her other daughter Ingrid. Bradshaw does a commendable job as the remorseless Ralph, and delivers an intense performance when confronted with his past. Ové's steely performance as Agnetha is well done and she has a strong stage presence, the tough "no nonsense" persona works really well. 

The staging (Alex Millidge) utilises an elevated round revolving platform, with a screen splitting the stage in half, Ralph's prison cell and interrogation room makes up one half and Nancy's home the other. The slow removal of furniture, props and plants over the years in Nancy's home is a clever detail as she begins to lose her sense of self. The stage revolve is used to occasionally show us both locations as once, which is a really effective use of the revolve. However, the revolve does make a loud sound when revolving, which often draws attention away from the show. The screen cloth isn't entirely opaque, which did make for slight distraction when the actor and stage hands were resetting for the following scene. Sound and lighting design comes from Liam McDermott and Henry Slater, and through gentle music, video projection and lighting, the team make an effective stormy and colder environment. With a grayish blue lighting for Ralph and a pinkish orange for Nancy, the distinctive emotions arise through the lighting design.

Frozen tries hard to achieve a dramatic and moving story, but doesn't quite achieve all that it sets out to do. Frozen is currently playing at the Greenwich Theatre until 19th May - for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Danny Kaan


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