DECEMBER 2023 | Volume 234
Katrina Teitz as Snow White and Carly Pokaradi as Four in Snow White. Photo credit, Emily Cooper. Provided by Carousel Theatre.
I’ve been taking my two granddaughters, now six and nine, to Carousel shows for the past couple of years, and they have become pretty astute critics. They really enjoyed Snow White, Greg Banks’ colloquial two-actor adaptation of the classic fairy tale. I wasn’t quite as thrilled, but the show isn’t aimed at me.
In Banks’ version two young women get together to tell the story. They spend a good deal of time arguing over whether to go ahead and do it because the other actors are missing. When they finish, there’s quite a bit of self-congratulations. The play could have done without that whole meta element.
Katrina Teitz mostly plays Snow White, and Carly Pokaradi all the other characters, except when they switch roles, using minimal costume pieces from designer Emily Friesen for quick changes, along with accents and body language. It’s almost always clear who’s who when, and the grandgirls had no trouble following the plot.
The story is basically the same: the wicked stepmother, the friendly dwarves, the prince who comes to the rescue. This Snow White is a pretty tough cookie, though her sometime softheartedness gets her in trouble. The grandgirls liked her but she definitely wasn’t their favourite. Their consensus fave was the slacker prince, who appears only at the end but is the most comically exaggerated and amusing character, played in turns by both Teitz and Pokaradi.
The other thing our nine-year-old liked best was the show’s high dramatic energy. Kudos to the actors for keeping up a torrid pace for 75 minutes without intermission or any offstage breaks. But the dialogue suffers because of the speed and physicality of the performances, and because for most of the show bearded sound designer MJ Coomber is on stage, in a dress, playing an accordion. The music helps accelerate the pace, but also further obscures the dialogue.
This isn’t Shakespeare, so who cares if we miss a few words? But it is problematic in the sections where Pokaradi plays all seven dwarves. They don’t have names but go by numbers, and the actor distinguishes them primarily by their accents. Between the frantic action, shouting and accordion music, it was very difficult to know which dwarf she was embodying at any given moment. For an actor, playing seven characters at once is hard enough without competition. Director Jennica Grienke should have made it a little easier for her here.Anyway, the grandgirls enjoyed all that hullabaloo along with all the business involving Monica Emme’shandsome dwarf-house set – and of course the goofy prince. Our 75 minutes were almost entirely squirm-free, and our girls can hardly wait for the next one.
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