Snowflake (Park Theatre)

Posted: April 20, 2023 in Theatre

Photo: Jenifer Evans

Writer: Robert Boulton

Director: Michael Cottrell


With Spring well underway, snowflakes should be a rarity in London, as rare perhaps as the arrival  of a taut new thriller in modern theatre. Robert Boulton’s play takes classic elements of the genre and updates them for the internet age.

The writer himself plays Marcus, who we take to be an assassin. He is violently aggressive and boastful of his complete mastery of his trade. He barges into a hotel room accompanied by rookie Sarah, who is on her first mission. Louse Hoare makes Sarah an ambitious career woman, eager to learn from an expert, but wary of what lies ahead.The pair bring with them crates full of DIY tools, giving rise to gruesome thoughts about their intended use. The room’s occupant, Anthony, a famous writer is laid flat by Marcus before the intruders have even announced themselves.

While Anthony lies unconscious on the bed, assassin and apprentice assassin joust with each other, dancing gingerly around the purpose of their mission, but not  fully revealing it. At this stage, the characters feel one-dimensional and, rather than wondering what is going on, it seems more relevant to question whether all this has been seen before. In The Dumb Waiter perhaps? Similar layers of menace prevail, but Pinter’s piercing observations and subversive wit are notably absent.

When Anthony comes round, the play itself wakes up. Henry Davis makes the character a fallible human being, filled with real terror, his face caught in close-up and projected onto a large screen. Through his protracted agony, the play appears to be turning into a parable about trial by Twitter, but then it veers off to sprout other less clear philosophical views. In all, there are too many ideas for them all to gel together successfully. As plot twists are unveiled, the play itself risks twisting itself into knots, but it is saved by a gripping, if excessively violent finale.

Director Michael Cottrell’s compact production suits the Park Theatre’s studio space well and designer Alys Whitehead fills the space with a comfortable modern hotel room, which contrasts perfectly with the discomforting goings on inside it. Overall a high level of suspense is sustained for much of the two-hour (including interval) running time.

Snowflakes marks a promising writing debut for Boulton, but his modern thriller is a patchy affair. At times, it grips like a vice and, at other times, it melts away like a snowflake in April. However, there can be no disputing the power of its climax. Hitchcock could not have staged it better.

Performance date: 17 April 2023

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.