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REVIEW: The Snow Queen (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh)

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

24 November 2023

The Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh


The Snow Queen, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh 2023

Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairytale 'The Snow Queen' has been relocated to late Victorian, wintery Scotland and given a new lease of life by Morna Young, Cora Bissett and the team at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh.


"When the fearsome Snow Queen steals young Kei away to her frozen kingdom, she leaves behind the brave and brilliant Gerda, an Edinburgh lass who will stop at nothing to rescue her best friend.

But the Snow Queen has lodged shards of magical ice into Kei’s heart, turning him cold and mean. Can Gerda, with the help of friends she meets along the way, track her pal through the magical, wintery world of the Snow Queen and melt his frozen heart before it’s too late?"

The Snow Queen, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Costumes and set design by Emily James. Image Credit Jess Shurte

This is a brilliant retelling of The Snow Queen; inventive, creative and full of heart. An epic adventure story, a battle of good against evil, but with the added delights of some of Scotland's own myths and legends. Hamish the unicorn (the unicorn is Scotland's national animal!) is a creation of sheer genius brought to life with cheekiness and glee by the phenomenal Richard Conlon. Writer Morna Young has cleverly incorporated Scots language into the production too: It feels like this show has been written with love, especially for the people of Scotland.

The staging is fantastic. The set is a mirror image of the stunning Royal Lyceum auditorium, and this forms the basis for the Snow Queen's Ice Palace. Clever use of lighting and props transforms it further into Waverley train station and other locations across Scotland. The scenes change quickly, and the story moves along at pace, but thanks to superb direction by Cora Bisset, the action flows seamlessly, and the storyline and assorted characters are always clear and composed.

The costumes by Emily James are stunning, with care taken to ensure they dazzle, but also fit the Victorian setting. The Snow Queen sparkles in blues and greens - her icy corset and flowing skirt the perfect wintery outfit for the beautiful baddie.

Claire Dargo as the Snow Queen by the Royal Lyceum theatre, Edinburgh. Costumes and set design by Emily James, Image Credit Jess Shurte

The cast are excellent with Claire Dargo (the Snow Queen), Wendy Seager (Granny May), Antony Strachan (Grandpa / King) and Richard Conlon (Hamish the Unicorn) bringing a wealth of experience and pure quality to the stage. Rosie Graham is the perfect strong and brave heroine of the tale; her Gerda is a captivating and confident protagonist; a superb role model for anyone who may need reminding why love and friendship are so important. Samuel Pashby gives an exuberant, physically funny performance as Corbie that went down a storm. Naomi Stirrat plays a number of roles and steals the scene with every one of them. Special mention to Yana Harris and Sebastian Lim Seet who I think are both incredible talents; great to see them both shine again here.

The cast not only act, sing and make the audience roar with laughter, but many of them play instruments throughout the show too. There are so many memorable and lovable characters written into this production and every one of them is expertly realised by this impressive, talented company. This must be one of the best ensemble casts on stage in Scotland this Christmas.

The Snow Queen is full of fantastic original songs, with music by Finn Anderson and lyrics from Morna Young. 'Quines Gotta Fight' could be a feminist anthem, and there are some gorgeous ballads 'Nobody looks up anymore' among the more upbeat, sparkly numbers. I will never forget 'Horse with a horn'. An original score can be a very hard sell, especially at Christmas, but this one is wonderful and a credit to the talent behind and on stage.

Your kids will love this. In fact, the adults in the audience may have loved it more than the kids! The Royal Lyceum have outdone themselves with this year's festive production. It's magical, hilarious, exciting and it's a little different to the pantomimes running at other theatres at this time of year. The Lyceum's Snow Queen is the perfect folky fairytale winter adventure. Don't miss this!


📸 Production photography: Jess Shurte

Samuel Pashby as Corby, Richard Conlon as Hamish the Unicorn and Rosie Graham as Gerda in The Snow Queen, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Costumes and set design by Emily James. Image Credit Jess Shurte



The Snow Queen runs at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh from 23 November - 31 December 2023

Tickets from £22 adults, £10 children

Or via the Box Office on 0131 248 4848.

Access Performances:

❄️ Captioned - Sat 2 December, 2pm 

❄️ Audio Described and Touch Tour - Thurs 7 December, 7pm/ Sat 9 December, 2pm 

❄️ Touch Tour at 5:45 pm / 12:45 pm. Please book in advance here or by calling our Box Office on 0131 248 4848.

❄️ BSL Interpreted - Wed 13 December, 7pm 

❄️Relaxed - Fri 22 December, 7pm 


Creative Team

Writer - Morna Young

Director - Cora Bisset 

Designer - Emily James 

Casting Director - Orla O’Connor

Lighting Designer - Lizzie Powell 

Composer - Finn Anderson 

Musical Director - Shonagh Murray 

Movement Director - Jack Webb

Fight Director - Emma Claire Brightlyn 

Assistant Director - Niloo-Far Khan 

Producer - Laura Clark 


The Snow Queen - Claire Dargo 

Gerda - Rosie Graham 

Kei - Sebastian Lim-Seet

Hamish the Unicorn - Richard Conlon

Senga - Naomi Stirrat 

Corbie - Samuel Pashby 

Granny May / Seer - Wendy Seagar 

Grandpa Lyle - Antony Strachan 

Ensemble/Understudy - Yana Harris 

Ensemble/Understudy - Kieran Andrew

The Snow Queen, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Costumes and set design by Emily James. Image Credit Jess Shurte


❄️ REVIEW: The Snow Queen (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh) ❄️

🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.

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💗 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram

Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.


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