The Snow Gorilla at Rose Theatre, Kingston – review
PUBLISHED: 15:44 03 December 2013 | UPDATED: 15:44 03 December 2013
Circus meets musical theatre in The Rose Theatre’s Christmas offering, The Snow Gorilla. Co-produced by Bor Productions and directed and staged by Roger Hannah, this heartwarming tale of a struggling circus and young love against the odds is presented in amongst a series of circus acts that will take your breath away.
Joanne Heywood is Fanny Marigny, a feisty circus owner with a heart of gold. She gives a job to young orphan, Sunny (Ciaran Joyce), whose beguiling optimism soon attracts the attention of Fanny’s daughter, Chloe, played with charm by Lucy Hope-Borne. Enter a mix of cast members (look out for Sam Parks’ enigmatic, not-what-he-seems Beppo the Clown), live musicians and professional circus acts. While the actors get on with progressing the storyline, the circus performers take turns to display their astounding talents.
The acrobatic displays of charismatic trio, Cryton Gaviao, John Jaidi and Paul Kotey, are a particular highlight, as is beautiful Flamenco dancing from Silvia Veliz and Victor Lopez. Other treats include juggling and an aerial bamboo act, while contortionist Gereltuya Ganbold, despite an earlier comment from Fanny Marigny, proves herself quite able to ‘make ends meet’.
So where does the eponymous Snow Gorilla come in? This is a talking gorilla named Snow, plucked from his mountain home as a youngster and brought to the circus to perform. Found to be less than a crowd-pleaser, he was hidden away in a cage until Sunny discovers him - and his amazing ability to talk and sing. And not only talk, but do so in the wonderfully sonorous tones of Brian Blessed, who has provided the voiceover for the mighty ape.
Together, Sunny and Snow (who according to Blessed, are the perfect ‘meteorological combination’) save the day by foiling a thief (played by a deliciously evil Nicholas Maude), returning the circus’ missing money and securing its financial future with a brand new double act. What could have so easily turned into an overly saccharine friendship between ape and boy was pulled off with aplomb and just the right mix of sentiment and humour, thanks to Blessed’s delivery of the key punchlines, and Joyce’s sheer likeability as Sunny.
• The Snow Gorilla runs at the Rose Theatre, Kingston until Sunday January 5, 2014. Tickets can be bought online at www.rosetheatrekingston.org or by phone on 0844 4821 556.