Picture: Tristram Kenton

The Snowman

Birmingham Rep


The Snowman’s return to the Rep has drifted into nostalgia territory with audience members who were children or parents when the boy’s frosted friend first walked in the air back in 1993 now bringing their children and grandchildren.

Yet it seems strange to watch what is essentially a show for the festive season a day after 12th night, with festive decorations back in the loft and Easter eggs piling high in the shops – Christmas goods will no doubt eventually start to appear the day after Easter Monday at the current rate of retail progress.

Not that that worried or bothered the children in the audience, with a little girl nearby living every moment complete with oohs and aahs, and, let’s be honest, that’s who this show is for, children.

They don’t see well disguised wires from the flies, they see a snowman and a boy really flying, they are walking in the air and, to them, it is magic, the wonder of theatre.

And The Snowman, devised with Howard Blake who wrote the score of the 1982 animated film, really is a magical tale for children. As in the film there is no dialogue, the story is simple and easy to follow and the set is a sort of winter wonderland with a semicircular proscenium fringing the stage with a constant gentle fall of snow.

And speaking of magic, there is Ethan Sokontwe as The Boy. Ethan already has an impressive CV from appearing in Joseph in the West End, to being a dancer on The Voice and part of an award winning break dance group as well as appearing in commercials for household name brands, which is not a bad start from someone who is nine.

He gave the boy bags of charm and was alive every moment he was on stage, even when just watching others he was still in character. There are no guarantees of success in the harsh world of employment in theatre, but Ethan has thrown a pretty classy hat into the ring.

Martin Fenton also managed an excellent job as The Snowman. It’s not easy to give a character anything approaching life, let alone personality, dressed in a white fluffy onesie with coal for eyes – but he managed it with gestures and subtle little movements to bring the Snowman to life.

The pair made The Boy and The Snowman believable, all adding to the magic for the children watching.

Add in Father Christmas, carol singers, and Chinese, Arabian, Scottish and housewife snowmen, a couple of penguins, a Top Hat snowman, a ballerina and a rather nasty Jack Frost and you could hear the chuckles of delight from the youngsters.

There is a sadness when the snowman suffers the fate of all of his ilk, instead of dust to dust they get ice to water, but the sadness is short-lived as The Boy finds he still has the scarf given to him by Father Christmas . . . and it has started to snow again, so the snowman (mark II version) might live again.

If there is a criticism it is the snow, or rather the lack of it. A sprinkling of very fine snow falling from the roof and landing over a few rows of audience seems a bit stingy these days – a few more snow machines and bigger flakes with greater spread to give more of the audience a blizzard to enjoy would be much appreciated by large numbers of children left disappointed. A snow storm that actually reached them would have made their night complete. To 09-01-22.

Roger Clarke


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