REVIEW: Snowed In, Anatomical (The Place)

This Christmas, The Place presents the premiere of Anatomical’s festive family show, Snowed In. The production invites audiences (age 5+) to make a reservation at an imaginary hotel atop a snowy mountain, where a world of wonder awaits. With last week’s real snow now melted, Mummy and the munchkins were excited to don our imaginary snow shoes and immerse ourselves in the magic of make-believe and dance.

Snowed In sees two children (Deepraj Singh and Gabbie Cook) playing in the snow, using their imaginations to conjure up a pair of playmates (Lisa Chearles and Andy Gardiner) with whom to have adventures. Together the four friends head to the top of the mountain, where they dream up an incredible hotel which is about to host the most magnificent feast. They’re free to race around the corridors, jump on the beds and pillow fight to their hearts’ content. They can even venture into the mysterious Room Zero if they dare. The only limits are in their minds.

It’s an engaging production which beautifully balances contemporary dance with accessible dialogue and some good old-fashioned audience participation befitting of the season. Early on, the audience is divided into two groups; one half of the room play the hotel guests while the other half become staff. They sing, dance and even engage in a giant snowball fight. Even those who are ordinarily opposed to enforced fun will find it impossible to resist the allure of hurling fluffy projectiles around the room! And for those who enjoy the limelight, there is an opportunity to take centre stage, as a handful of children (and at least one “lucky” adult) get selected to dance with the cast. Quaver’s hand shot up as soon as the cast came out looking for volunteers, and she was utterly delighted to join them on stage. It made her day and she has declared Snowed In to be the best show she’s seen in ages.

The messaging of the piece is lovely, with a focus on the joys of imaginative play. The set and costume design give a real feel of being out in the snow, while the hotel setting is constructed largely from the cast and audience’s imagination. The music is wide-ranging, encompassing both beat-boxing and yodelling, plus a catchy chant about the true meaning of Christmas -pudding! (Quaver was adamant that this song had been written especially for her.) With modern life being so dominated by technology these days (for both children and adults), it’s great to be able to step away from a screen for an hour and celebrate the simpler things in life.

Overall, Snowed In is a joyful exploration of childhood which manages to be fabulously festive without being overtly Christmassy or straying into pantomime territory. Adults and children alike will leave the auditorium desperate for more snowfall and hungry for pudding!

Snowed In plays at The Place, London from 14 to 24 December 2023. We received complimentary press tickets to the performance on 20 December.