FROZEN | London, Theatre Royal Haymarket

No spoilers: this is not a stage adaptation of the much-loved 2013 Disney animation. Bryony Lavery’s taut and controversial 1998 play won awards at the National Theatre and on Broadway, and now in its 20th anniversary year has been revived in the West End. Director Jonathan Munby’s production is slick and modern; black box staging except for a few key set pieces, making the most of a remarkable cast.

The small cast and to-audience monologues of the text suggest an intimate studio staging, but the 900-seater Theatre Royal Haymarket gives a much grander feel to the proceedings. Icy, gliding video screens splinter up and outwards to add height and depth to the set design (Paul Wills), but the monologues are staged simply, front and centre. Fantastic music (Rupert Cross) and sound design (Christopher Shutt) contribute to the pace and terrifying atmosphere.

Spoilers now: award-winning Jason Watkins is phenomenal as child predator and serial killer Ralph Wantage, bringing the gripping ambiguity of the text to life as both genuinely frightening yet still sympathetic. Such an astonishing character study is likely to be picked up by the judges in this year’s Olivier Awards. BAFTA Award-winning Suranne Jones and Nina Sosanya also give powerful performances.

It is amazing how relevant and shocking Lavery’s play remains today in regards to the justice system and criminal psychology. Not for the faint-hearted, but those willing to confront this deeply disturbing side of humanity will find a challenging and moving work.

Strictly limited run until 5 May 2018. Tickets from £10.

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