There is little more traumatic and devastating for a parent than losing a child. Frozen is a play that revolves around a mother’s journey as she comes to terms with the disappearance of her 10-year-old daughter, the aftermath of her death, and the struggles around the need to forgive and move on.
The production, written by Bryony Lavery, first premiered in 1998. So the show has had many runs, and reached a certain level of production maturity in the last 20 years. This year’s Fringe run from Vulture Theatre features Maddie Wakeling as the mother Nancy, and Jordan-Michael Tweddle as Ralph, the paedophile. Georgina Whelehan plays Agnetha, a criminal psychiatrist who comes all the way from America to study the physiology and behaviour of Ralph as part of her thesis.
The action revolves around the three, and it's a very balanced rotation, with lighting and props cleverly putting the spotlight on the focus of action. The scenes that cover Agnetha’s interviews of Ralph are particularly intense, as the criminal shows no remorse and the scientist is probing and clinical – even as she faces her own internal demons. Wakeling does a great job of portraying the hope of a mother who thinks her child will return, and her despondency as she tries to grasp the reality.
Even though the acting is great, and the script starts very strong, towards the end I’m not convinced. Nancy’s "forgiveness" of Ralph felt forced to me; I cannot understand how a mother could ever forgive the assault and murder of her 10-year-old, and the script didn't succeed in persuading me otherwise. Additionally, we’re told that many psychopaths don’t show remorse, and that the part of their brain that processes logic is underdeveloped; but this is followed by a scene that contradicts just that – where logic is used with Ralph and he then seems remorseful.
Having said that, this play has great performances, some beautiful lines and a strong plot. And even if the conclusion is not to your liking, the journey is compelling.