One thing we have really missed this year is live theatre, something we’ve always been spoilt with here in Brighton, with some of the South East’s top venues on our doorstop, popping to see a show is as much a part of Brighton life as popping to the beach for lunch. When we got tickets to see the Snow Queen at Brighton Open Air Theatre it felt like a bit of normality, and a welcome chance to have some festive fun whilst still abiding by local restrictions.

Photo of performers at Brighton Open Air Theatre

Having been theatre starved for so long our first show in over 9 months had a lot to live up to, more so when having a 5-year-old in tow, famously the harshest critics one could find. So, on a cold, drizzly December evening we headed off to BOAT with a full flask of hot chocolate, blankets and enough snacks to occupy the most ravenous young child along with big hopes of the show ahead of us.

The Brighton Open Air Theatre is perfectly situated to be easily accessible from either Brighton or Hove, the no. 27 bus goes direct from Brighton past the theatre or you can walk from Hove station in 25 minutes. What I love about this venue is the open green space around it, Dyke Road park has beautiful gardens and a play area, so ideal if you have a child with you, you can let them have a good run around before they have to sit still for the show. The relaxed nature of the venue also lends itself nicely to taking children, taking a picnic and drinks is fine so you can go armed although they do have a bar there if you need to buy a drink whilst there.

Arriving at the venue we headed towards the sparkly lights, twinkling like a beacon of entertainment in the dark December evening, feeling very excited about finally getting to watch some live entertainment. After a short (socially distanced) queue we were let into the venue, there is plenty of space to leave a buggy or scooter like us. Once a friendly volunteer showed us to our seats, it was clear to see where we could sit to stay distanced and have a great view of the stage. This is a trip out where being overprepared is fine, we took all manner of blankets, umbrellas and coats and had plenty of room to sit comfortably, although if you have forgotten anything essential, the venue do have sheets to sit on and umbrellas you can borrow.

Cocoa in hand, we snuggled in to start the show and we were not disappointed. Personally, I think any activity that can hold a number of young children captive for an hour, has to be magical and this is the best way to describe the Snow Queen. We followed Greta on her fun journey to save her brother Kay from the Snow Queen’s icy palace, meeting some hilarious characters along the way. Our favourite had to be the fame hungry Crow who told cheesy jokes which made the kids roar with laughter and the adults chuckle too. With some really ingenious props it was easy to be drawn into Greta’s journey to the ice palace, with a narrator to keep the youngest audience members up to date and some brilliant costume changes, the three actors on stage drew us into their tale. Before we knew it, the show had come to a close and we hadn’t even noticed it had been raining. This was the perfect show for young children, just the right length and a small slice of the normality of going to see a show around Christmas time. When I asked my daughter what her thoughts she replied, “The Crow was really funny, the Snow Queen wasn’t too scary and I had the best time EVER!” No praise I could write beats that, the show definitely lived up to expectations. All involved in this production should be congratulated, an outdoor children’s show in a normal December is a tall ask and the actors, production team, and venue volunteers delivered an amazing show and this was definitely no normal December. If you can get your hands on tickets for the Snow Queen or Hansel & Gretel (A postmodern pantomime) we would recommend trying, but if none are available if you’re looking to see a show next year that is a safe venue to visit we can highly recommend Brighton Open Air Theatre.

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Brighton Open Air Theatre
Theatre
Promotional image for The Snow Queen

Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT) was the vision of local playwright Adrian Bunting, who died in 2013 and left his vision to a group of friends. This is his legacy for the city he loved. “Everything’s better outdoors. Join us under the stars.” Since its opening in 2015 BOAT has gone from strength to strength and is now well established as part of Brighton & Hove’s cultural landscape.

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