Thurs 21 Nov saw a very wet and cold evening, but despite the weather the Christmas spirit pulled us through. Sussex-based theatre company This Is My Theatre treated us with a production of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale The Snow Queen at St Peter’s Church near Preston Manor.

When I was at primary school, no more than six or seven years old, we were treated to a production of The Snow Queen at the theatre one Christmas. Since then the story has held special Christmas memories for me, so this year I knew it would leave me yearning for the festivities to begin.

Welcomed out of the wind and rain into the 13th century church, we were greeted with a cup of mulled wine and a mince pie. I don’t think we could have felt more festive! Despite it only being the end of November, I was fully on board the Christmas bandwagon after this lovely performance.

This Is My Theatre tour throughout the county, within a variety of venues, bringing classic stories to all communities. They work closely with The Churches Conservation Trust putting on productions in their ancient buildings, bringing them alive again. Like St Peter’s Church, these buildings are the perfect location for these classic stories to be told.

As the well-known tale goes, young Gerda loses her best friend Kay after he is stolen by the cold-hearted Snow Queen. He is cursed by the mystical woman to become nasty and rude to his loved ones, leaving Gerda confused and upset. Yet she finds the courage to venture across the frozen land in order to save him, meeting lots of interesting characters who aid her along the way.

Featuring beautiful vocals that echoed around the old church, a series of intricate props, including friendly mechanical reindeer, and a mystical and slightly spooky snow queen, it was a great performance for all the family. The actors interacted up and down the aisle, as though the audience are completely in amongst the story. It allowed me to escape the real world for just a short while.

You can catch This Is My Theatre’s productions of classic fairy tales including Hansel & Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella, at Crawley’s Tilgate Park, up until Mon 23 Dec 2020. Find out more at: www.thisismytheatre.com/once-upon-a-time