2 April 2015

Frozen at Park Theatre was excellent voyeuristic horror in the style of Silence of the Lambs


Something about Frozen appealed to me but I had to work hard to get there. Or rather, I had to skip work to get there.

I was in our Kings Cross office only to discover that all telecommunications were out (it was the Holborn underground fire) so there was no point me being there. And I had theatre booked that evening so I did not want to go all the way back home just to do a couple of hours work before turning around and coming back again.

The solution was simple and brilliant. A quick phone call to the Park Theatre confirmed that they had good wi-fi and that there were seats available for that afternoon's performance. So off I set, walking (of course) the 4.2km to boost my daily step count.

I got there well before the lunchtime rush and while there were a few people in, mostly working, I was able to find a good spot near to a power supply and set to work with my first latte of the session.

I had a welcome distraction about an hour later when I got an email from somebody at the Park Theatre asking about Gift Aid on a recent donation. I replied and pointed out that I was actually in the theatre and a few moments later I was talking to Dorcas Morgan, the Development Director there. I was pleased to be able to tell her personally that I love the set-up there.

I had about four hours to fill before the show and that meant more lattes, a quiche for lunch and some work. Actually the work went as well as it would have done had I been in the working office.

At 3pm I moved into their smaller studio. Park90, for Frozen. It was not sold out but I still did well to get a front-row seat.

I knew Frozen was about an abducted child but I had no idea of how it would be approached.

There were three narratives, the mother's, the killer's and a psychologist's. Their stories were told to us directly except for when they coincided and then we watched their conversations. It's a style I had seen used several times recently and I think that it works well, it is certainly better than inventing an artificial reason for one character to reveal his/her thoughts by talking to somebody else.

An obvious reference point for this was Silence of the Lambs, and there were further echoes in the language, and I offer that comparison to show how good Frozen was rather than to suggest any derivation.

All of the stories were dark, though some were darker than others. The mother revisited her decision to send one of her daughters (and which one she chose) on an errand, the psychologist had her own skeletons relating to a colleague who had just died and, not surprisingly, the serial killer's life was almost relentlessly dark from being abused as a child through to his killing spree.

The stories were told through a series of generally short scenes which kept the pace going and switching between the characters helped to vary the mood. When done correctly, i.e. it is not over-contrived, then that approach keeps you engaged in the story and immerses you in the story. It was done correctly here.

One slight reason for going was to see the psychologist, Helen Schlesinger, whom I had seen play the Queen at the Rose Theatre, and while she and the mother both played their parts well it was Mark Rose as the unrepentant and calm killer who dominated proceedings. I tweeted something at half-time about him playing the part a little too well for my liking! His was the main story of the three, and rightly so.

Because of the subject matter it was never going to be an unhappy or uplifting play and I was more than happy to settle for tense, dark and gripping instead. Frozen was brilliant.

I hung around for one final latte after the show and, as hoped, managed to grab a quick word with Mark. I remarked on his heavily scrubbed look and he said that he liked to leave his character firmly behind in the theatre and to emerge as himself. I could see why you would do that.

In one way you could say that there was nothing special about Frozen but that would be to miss the point that so many parts of it were very good that, working together, produced an exceptionally good drama. I am not convinced, though, that a Thursday afternoon was the most sensible time to enter that world!

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