Preview: The Snow Queen, Park Theatre
PUBLISHED: 15:01 28 November 2019
North London actor Frances Marshall plans to take winter dips in the Heath ponds to ready herself for her role as The Snow Queen
Frances Marshall will be immersing herself in the freezing waters of the Heath ponds to get herself into the spirit of her latest role.
She plays The Snow Queen at Park Theatre - which requires two hours in make-up to transform her into the embodiment of winter.
"I'm a cold water swimmer, I swim through the winter," she says.
"I've worked in the Lake District and broken thin ice before to swim. Now I've moved to Finchley I am going to swim on the Heath - I sound like the Snow Queen but it does feel amazing to be cold and numb."
The Finsbury Park venue's adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale sees feisty adventurer Gerda travel through the seasons to save her best friend from his chilly fate in the Queen's northern ice palace.
Her magic mirror has splintered, leaving a shard in Cei's heart that is slowly turning him cold forever.
"I hope the make-up will get much quicker as the run goes on," says Marshall, who praises the accessibilty of Charles Way's script and an original score that includes "powerful songs".
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"The story is not as well known as Andersen's Ugly Duckling or Little Mermaid and as a child I remember finding it quite weird.
"Our version is clearer than the book and (director) Abigail Anderson is so good at putting human characters on stage that everyone can connect to."
While some adaptations explore the Snow Queen's origins - rather like Disney's Frozen, at the Park she is "simply a season".
"There's that idea of explaining the Snow Queen with a whole back story of a girl who lost love and has fallen through the ice, but you don't need to explain her, she's not human, she's the season of winter and just wants it to be winter all the time - the emotions that go with that are pride, arrogance and greed.
"The journey through all the seasons to get to winter is very much a part of our story, it's an exciting journey - each season has it's own musical style - but in the end the Snow Queen needs to just be happy with being winter."
While the show is "wintry rather than Christmassy" the story involves snowball fights, a talking reindeer and ice trolls who have created the magic mirror.
"There's a real mythical element, the mirror has broken and the Queen believes Cei can fix it but a tiny splinter gets into his eye and goes through his heart. The race is on before it's too late and he gets too cold, but luckily Gerda is a brilliant gritty heroine who fights for her friendship with determination, a quick wit and love in her heart."
The Snow Queen is at Park Theatre from December 4 to January 4.