Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Footsbarn Theatre, the renowned award-winning company from France, presents their new show – based on the well-loved Snow Queen story, to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe in an english speaking version called La Petite Gerda, director and text by Sadie Jemmett.
The international cast of six performers do it all – as is the Footsbarn way – by playing the music live, singing and playing several different characters, including two puppet characters and some very interesting animals!
In this story by Hans Christian Anderson young Gerda and young Kai are good friends and play together every day. Gerda’s grandmother, her Babushka tells them stories and one day tells them about the Snow Queen. They are told not to talk to the Snow Queen who likes to invite people to her kingdom. The warm and wise Babushka in her brightly coloured scarf and long skirt tells Gerda and Kai of this danger. However, is her warning enough?
As we may know from this traditional story Gerda obeys her Babushka but Kai is tempted and meets the Snow Queen who invites him to come away to her kingdom…
Gerda searches for Kai and comes across various characters through the forest, including two beautifully designed puppet characters, plus a very interesting reindeer called Hans and a bird that sings. On this journey there is also a princess who is rather more modern than the original story, which is relatable and adds to the humour and mayhem!
There are several songs in this children’s musical theatre show that will entertain the entire family. Gerda’s songs are a highlight, so beautifully emotive, with other songs sung by characters including Babushka, Kai and the ensemble. One of the cast, a musician sits in view of the audience stage left, which is wonderful because we can see the variety of instruments being played.
The set is attractive and very well designed. Three main set pieces transform into several places, such as a forest, a home, a carriage and more! Traditional colourful costumes with textured fabric suggesting the time and place of the story are effective, especially when several performers have very quick changes into other characters.
In the forest there are other things that are creatively conveyed with movement or imaginative ways of showing snow and the night.
La Petite Gerda is an imaginative retelling of a lovely story with a message comprising beautifully sung songs, excellent acting and creative storytelling from the entire ensemble. It’s also a wonderful way to introduce the young to musical theatre.