Snowflakes, 3 Stars

Old Red Lion
28th Sep to 16th Oct 2021

“Think of us like the active hand of impotent rage.
How far would you go to right a wrong? Snowflakes takes Cancel Culture a little literally to question ideas of morality, revenge and justice with gleeful, violent abandon. Combining the technological nihilism of Black Mirror with the dark comedy and horror of Inside No. 9, it lacerates modern outrage and trial by social media.
Marcus and Sarah work for a very special start-up. They do the job that so many people call out for in the comments section so outsource your rage, disgust and vitriol and let’s get to the truth before the media storm blows over. They may not based in a co-working space but they do have an app: Justice isn’t blind, it’s streamed to millions. Don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe!
Making his writing debut, Robert Boulton (False Choices, King’s Head Theatre; Baked Beans) will also star in Snowflakes as Marcus alongside Niamh Finlay (Gutted, The Marlowe Theatre and UK Tour; Everything that Rises Must Dance, Complicité) as Sarah and John MacCormick (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Windsor Castle; Room 88) as Tony.
Director Mike Cottrell comments, We speculated that it would be fascinating to delve into the darker sides of the human experience and what we realised quickly is the frightening fact that you don’t have to delve too deep to find that in the world right now. The constant flood of doubt in our politicians, in our media, in our own consciences can seem overwhelming and hard to comprehend. We wanted to take that feeling and explore what lengths people will go to find meaning and to purpose in a chaotic world.”

Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars

The concept is modern and interesting – a person who has wronged is put on trial as a live stream and the nation vote guilty or otherwise. Run by a “startup company”. With death a probable end result. The 1st half of SNOWFLAKES in intriguing and an interesting build into the 2nd half which is the interview.

Henry Davies plays Tony who’s on interview, Robert Boulton is Marcus the interviewer and videographer, with a brilliant performance by Niamh Finlay as Sarah who is on her 1st assignment. Robert Boulton, looking like a non-singing John Barrowman was maybe cast in the wrong role – he looks handsome and quite a believable womaniser, whereas John MacCormick comes across as rather dishevelled and not so slick. Perhaps they should have swapped characters?

The scene is set in a hotel room, and they’re all locked in until the job is done. It’s good that the script tells us we’re in a hotel room because a room painted floor to ceiling on all walls in dark blue, with a bed edged in white led flex – really doesn’t look like a hotel room. Added into that, when the other door opens there’s an alien green light spill, So it’s good that the text tells us it’s the bathroom cos I’ve never seen a hotel bathroom with green lighting before.

The 2nd half interview mixes in a couple of long monologues. The story falls flat while these are told. If the writer can’t tell a story in less than 70 minutes then you need a new writer or the Director or Producer should have a word. It’s such a shame that the build of the 1st half loses it’s punch over a side story about Centre Parks that’s not that great. It’s used as a vehicle to justify why Sarah has an unexpected action at the end (trying to avoid a spoiler here). It isn’t needed. Sarah is a contract killer – she can behave unpredictably at the end, look at Vilanelle.

The fighting elements were top notch!!! Well done to all involved for the punches, slaps, knock-downs, wrestles and grapples!

The Video technology was great stuff!!!! The Live Stream from an on-stage camera feeds a projector onto the wall over the bed. A nice touch with the video content was a mirrorball effect of little spots scattered and moving across the bed head. It felt slightly macabre in a clown-scary manner. But this was too prolonged and when the 1st gunshot was fired and blood was spilled the lighting changed to a pretty magenta instead of Red. I did wonder if the Tech Team and the Writer Directing team were on the same page. A 2nd gunshot to the head did not create any blood. Just what is now going on? All rather strange and somehow managing to undermine the drama.

There was also an abundance of haze throughout. With an absence of anyone smoking, or a fire, or moving lights or hard focussed spots creating beams, it was a mystery why the haze was there. Another sign of inexperience in the team is a white T shirt on someone being filmed in low lighting levels as the face doesn’t read on the camera, all you see is the white T-Shirt. And why was Tony dressed like this in the 2nd half when we hit the interval with him in a shirt? With better lighting the video projection would have worked much better and we’d better see the actors’ faces throughout – which is pretty important now and again in dramatical theatre.

The story is great and the actors are great – it just needs a trim and some technical polish and then it would be dynamite!

Photo Credit: Charles Flint Photography

Michael Cottrell – Director
Nat Graham – Assistant Director
Maria Maracci – Stage Manager
Alys Whitehead – Set and Costume Designer
Bethan Clarke – Fight Director
Jonathan Chan – Lighting Designer
Dan Light – Video Designer