If I were to use one word to describe Cumbernauld Theatre’s production of Snow White, it would be ‘hodgepodge’. Rather than settling on one style, director Ed Robinson has decided to use the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach, taking a classic fairy tale and throwing in elements of pantomime, satire, vaudeville and just about anything else he can think of, mostly to mixed results.
That isn’t to say that Snow White is bad; it isn’t. In fact I found it quite entertaining. But that was its greatest flaw: its eagerness to please. It so wanted the audience to like it that it seemed to have forgotten what ‘it’ is.
‘It’ is supposed to be Snow White, the story of a young woman hounded by her wicked stepmother for being prettier (in both looks and in heart) that herself. The stepmother has magical powers and is assisted by a mirror that is able to foresee things. Snow White finds refuge in the woods, only to be poisoned into a deep sleep that can only be reversed by true love.
And all of these plot elements can be found in this production. However, the stars are not Imogen Toner’s Snow White or Zoe Chatterton’s stepmother or even Darran Lightbody’s camp mirror.
Instead, the leads are Johnny Austin and James McAnerney, who play brothers that are both named Hamish McHamish. The Hamish brothers, you see, have moved into a cottage that used to belong to a group of mining dwarves, and they have been hired to find buried treasure. Their high jinks and attempts to protect Snow White make up the bulk of the play, and as funny as Austin and McAnerney are (and credit to them, they are both very funny and make a great double team), they do not have enough substance in their characters or actions to sustain a full two-hour production.
I’m fine with over-the-top comedy when played by talented people, but if I’ve been sold on the idea of being told the story of Snow White, I’d at least expect a fair bulk of the time be spent on that old contrivance known as plot. Here, plot is a mere excuse for Austin and McAnerney to clown around, to the point that any attempt to tell the story actually gets in their way.
That’s the great irony of this production: it doesn’t have enough of Snow White to allow her story to mean much, and yet by forcing most of the plot points of the original into this production, it doesn’t allow it two actual leads to take full control of the stage.
There are some inspired choices at play and I thought it was well performed, but Snow White is so focused on making one laugh that is has forgotten to make one care, resulting in a production that is entertaining in the moment but quickly passes into mental oblivion.
Filed under: Glasgow-based theatre productions |