WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE: Theatre Royal Haymarket
WHEN: 9/2, press night 20/2, runs to 5/5/18
We’re imagining that most of the packed audience at this venue are here for Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones and it’s her name we hear in occasional murmurings from our fellow guests ahead of this first preview.
- Read on for reasons including why it’s Jason Watkins who you’ll remember about this
Frozen, by Bryony Lavery, has an interesting history. It isn’t a musical and doesn’t include Let It Go but it was produced at Birmingham Rep, transferring to the National and Broadway, where it was nominated for four Tony Awards.
It has previously starred Anita Dobson and Josie Lawrence and here Jones plays a mother whose 10-year-old daughter Rhona has gone missing.
We follow Nancy’s story as she encounters Agnetha (a grieving doctor who is studying why men murder children) who does all she can to stop her meeting Rhona’s killer, Ralph, played by the always fascinating Jason Watkins.
It’s Watkins’ performance here that will linger longest in the memory. In the same way Hannibal Lecter has his own tics, so Watkins displays a terrifying use of the word: ‘Hello’ to lure his victims to his van.
Like the best actors, Watkins is unrecognisable from previous roles: notably his BAFTA-winning performance as the eccentric in The Last Honour Of Christopher Jefferies and comic turn in W1A.
Sosanya has been reviewed twice on this site (for Elegy and a Chekhov all-dayer) and this role as a scientist explaining a difficult concept will be familiar to those who saw her most recent role at the Donmar.
Here, however, the part allows her much more room to build a believable and complex character and she’s clearly an actress about to give a career-defining role.
She gets to ask the play’s most difficult questions: are some men turned into child murderers by the abuse they’ve suffered?
Jones is also a BAFTA winner and we can’t help but be reminded how far she’s come since we last saw her on this very stage in A Few Good Men in 2005.
Director Jonathan Munby is fresh from the Chichester triumph that was his King Lear starring Sir Ian McKellen, which transfers to the West End this summer, but, sadly, Frozen bears none of the visual flourishes that rendered that so remarkable.
One couldn’t ask for a better cast and director then for this but we felt the story was just a little too cold for us and, like its title, didn’t thaw its way into our hearts as we’d hoped it would.