Brisbane Festival Review: Snow White, La Boite Roundhouse Theatre (performances until September 24th)

  • Jodie Sloan
  • September 11, 2016
  • Comments Off on Brisbane Festival Review: Snow White, La Boite Roundhouse Theatre (performances until September 24th)

Forming part of Brisbane Festival’s Festival Focus: Snow White, and taking over the Roundhouse Theatre at Kelvin Grove’s Theatre Republic, this rendition of the Brothers Grimm classic fairytale was never going to be your standard Disney fare. Leave the kids at home, people!

Featuring Snow White (Stephanie Pickett), the Queen (incredible mezzo Silvia Colloca), the Mirror (Kanen Breen), and the Huntsman (Michael Tuahine), this a Seven Dwarfs free production, which director Lindy Hume describes as “the freedom to explore the story’s innant sensuality, violence, and brutality.” It’s a goal that Snow White certainly achieves; a twisted take on the already rather twisted classic.

The problem with musicals, I often find, is that watching them is a quite personal thing. I’ll fight anyone who suggests that Les Misérables is anything short of genius, but I’ll laugh you out of the room if you try to defend Lionel Bart’s Oliver! While it’s impossible to deny the amount of skill and talent that goes into creating a musical, knowing and appreciating that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy it.

Unfortunately, that’s the rather unenviable position I find myself in coming to review Snow White. Hearing from friends that were already planning on seeing it a second time, I’d braced myself to be completely blown away, but I wasn’t, and I feel like that really just comes down to personal preference.

For all that, there’s no denying that it’s fantastic. It really is. Beautifully performed by the whole cast, and supported by a talented four piece, consisting of Steve Russell (keyboard), Kathryn McKee (cello), Mikael Strand (trombone/trumpet), and Angus Wilson (percussion), the production is really well put together and an incredible take on a story we all know – or we think we do.

There’s a cabaret vibe that comes across, particularly through the character of the Mirror, and it’s here that I felt the production was at its strongest. It hits just the right note between sexy and scary, the perfect way to capture all the things the creators seemed to be aiming for. The high point for me came during the second act, when the Queen started to get in on that campy yet creepy feeling. The audience was in stitches as she made her entrance after the interval, breaking the fourth wall and interacting with audience members.

Indeed, it is Colloca as the Queen that really saved the show for me. As a character, she’s the only one with any real narrative arc, so much so that I’d say she was the main focus, rather than the eponymous Snow White. Performance wise, Colloca took on easily the most complex character and absolutely owned it.

I do wonder if my uncertainty about the show came down to the limitations of such a small cast and a short running time. With so many emotions and themes running rampant, from motherhood to grief and loss, sexuality to jealousy, there didn’t feel like enough characters to convey them or enough time to see them through. The end result is an impressive overall look, but it left me a little confused about what I supposed to be feeling or thinking once the lights went up. But when your production is aimed at blurring the lines between good and evil, this might be exactly the right effect.

It’s a really quite stunning performance, carried by a small but talented cast, and the staging is excellent, particularly for a performance in the round. I just wish I could have personally found more to enjoy, especially because everyone around me seemed to be having an absolute ball!


A collaboration between La Boite Theatre Company, Opera Queensland, and Brisbane Festival, Snow White was created by Opera Queensland’s Artistic Director Lindy Hume, librettist Suzie Miller, and composer Zulya Kamalova.

Performances run until September 24th at Theatre Republic, located at the QUT Kelvin Grove campus. For more information, please see the Brisbane Festival website.


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