Review by Hannah Wilkin
Image: Heather Carroll & Daniel Watson in Nina Berry’s The Terminal Velocity of Snowflakes at Live Theatre by Topher McGrillis
‘No two snowflakes are the same’. It’s a fact five year-old me loved. The first time someone challenged it with ‘Well they can’t have checked every snowflake there’s ever been can they?’ I remember thinking, that’s exactly what does happen. What else did scientists do with their time? This childlike wonder is something The Terminal Velocity of Snowflakes captures on stage and ignites in the audience from start to finish.
When we entered Live Theatre’s attic studio it almost took our breath away. The world we were in (you couldn’t call it scenery, it was too immersive an experience) was truly a winter wonderland. It really did feel like everything was coated in perfect, playful snow. Two characters emerged in the white: a little girl in a yellow coat and a little boy in a blue coat and hat. The interaction between them was beautiful; a word I would use to describe the whole play. It’s full of beautiful interactions between two people, even if they’re messy and not conventionally romantic they’re beautiful because they portray real human relationships. Heather Carroll and Daniel Watson’s performances were incredible, from excited children to sweary teenagers, bored twenty somethings and everything after and in between, they convincingly played the same characters at a variety of ages. Being able to portray the same character at five and forty five is an impressive skill, it was a joy to watch the characters develop.
The play follows Charlie and Rosie who keep bumping into each other at different points in their lives, usually when snow is just about to fall. Alongside these two characters, who the audience are rooting for to fall in love, we explore the infinite possibilities life holds and yet how sometimes things just seem to fit together. The play is also about choosing to love someone despite the difficult times that may lie ahead. Despite these powerful themes and the clever metaphors of snowflakes as similar to our fragile lives these themes are executed gracefully and never pushed in the audience’s faces.
Nina Berry’s story is absorbing and heartfelt; a love story surrounded with snow sounds like the recipe for every tacky film on the Christmas movie channel, but Nina Berry has taken this scenario and created something incredibly poignant, funny, clever and real with it. Carroll and Watson have an extraordinary knack for making the audience laugh out loud at some scenes and a few scenes later push us to the brink of tears. The Terminal Velocity of Snowflakes grew and grew on me as I watched Charlie and Rosie’s lives unfold, their story truly was heart warming. I would highly recommend watching this intimate, breath-taking performance before it melts away.