Bryony Lavery’s Frozen makes chilling comeback at Park Theatre

Sally Grey in Frozen. Picture: Gareth McLeod

Sally Grey in Frozen. Picture: Gareth McLeod - Credit: Archant

Don’t mistake it for Disney’s Frozen, for this dark tale of murder could hardly be further apart, says Alex Bellotti

“Someone said the other day it’s very timely, but then I thought well isn’t it always very timely? Isn’t child abduction and child abuse always timely as long as it’s still going on?”

Sally Grey highlights a sad truth as we discuss the Park Theatre’s latest play, Frozen. Coming shortly after the awful case of Bristol’s Becky Watts, this revival of Bryony Lavery’s dark tale about the consequences of child murder is unfortunately as contemporary as it was when it stormed the National Theatre back in 2002.

Brought to the stage by Islington’s Blueprint Theatre Company, the show is directed by Ian Brown and stars Grey alongside Mark Rose, Helen Schlesinger and Liam Timms.

It’s certainly an emotionally draining project – while Grey plays Nancy, the grieving mother of a murdered 10-year-old, her (real-life) husband, Rose, plays serial killer, Ralph. Both talk to a psychiatrist (Schlesinger), each delivering devatasting monologues as they come to terms with their situation and Nancy moves from desperation to eventual forgiveness.

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“There is something going on today where people are beginning to look a bit more between good and evil,” says Grey. “People are starting to realise that nothing is that simple and it’s important to understand that otherwise it will just keep going on and on and on if you demonise people and say you’re evil and that’s that.”

Of course losing your child – and in such brutal circumstances – is every parent’s worst nightmare, and one that is very hard to imagine unless it actually comes to pass. Grey says that taking on the role has changed her attitudes towards forgiveness – “does (Nancy) really forgive (Ralph) or does she just need to see him and tell him that she’s forgiven him?” On a dramatic level, she’s enjoyed the challenge.

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“It took me a long time to tap into that complete loss and stress. It has taken a while, but I’m an actor so I enjoy finding all that emotion, expressing it and looking at the big questions like can you find humour in grief as well? Certainly this character does and can and that’s how she survives, by finding a strength and humour in her situation.”

The theatre company has been pursuing the chance to perform Frozen for years, having long been taken with Lavery’s “incredible writing”.

“The thing with Bryony is that all the characters are so rounded. I know that sounds a bit of a cliché but you could easily just have the mother as a victim, then the murderer’s just this evil weirdo, but there are also moments where he can be very tender and gentle – it’s up to the audience to decide how to respond to that.”

In addition to the play, a corresponding art exhibition will also be showing throughout the run. Called Angels Fighting Devils (named after one of Ralph’s tattoos), it sees local artists create a series of images on themes raised in the play such as protection, fear and violence, based on ideas given to them by children.

“It’s quite nice that we’ve been able to give children a voice in this, because that’s something that’s often not done – which is understandable, they couldn’t come and see (the show) – but I think it’s important that children have as much of a voice as possible in this whole idea of what it means to be safe and understand where the danger is.”

Frozen runs at Park Theatre until April 17. Visit

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