Review: The Snow Gorilla @ The Rose Theatre, Kingston


By Alice Todman

A gorilla voiced by Brian Blessed, circus tricks and flamenco dancing are all on offer in The Snow Gorilla at Kingston’s Rose Theatre.

The story follows Sunny (Ciaran Joyce), an orphan who runs away to join the circus where he befriends a talking gorilla.

It’s a musical, circus and pantomime rolled into one; an inventive combination of genres.

The story is simple enough for children to follow, while the acts are spectacular enough to entertain adults.

Joyce is a strong singer who manages to make a song about wanting joining the circus poignant.

The songs are straightforward and catchy and it’s enjoyable to be able to see the band.

Ring-mistress Señorita Marigny’s (Joanne Heywood) circus may have Spanish style and music, but it is international, with an African acrobatic trio adding fun and energy.

There is some great pantomime villainy from Nicholas Maude as Erick while The Mighty Gor (the gorilla)’s movements and costume are convincing.

Dominic Leeder (the man inside the costume) conveys animal characteristics impressively and matches Blessed’s booming tones, which is no mean feat. 

The only blip for me is an ill-judged joke about the ring-mistress being robbed of her ‘dignity’.

There are good jokes which receive groans and laughs from the audience, with puns including: “a contortionist who can’t make ends meet.”

The actual contortionist, Gereltuya Ganbold, performs logic defying feats, including supporting her entire body using only her mouth, which is thrilling to watch.

There are a few lines about the ethics of keeping circus animals which effectively deal with potential criticisms without falling into preaching territory.

Details like costumed actors and a tent for kids to explore in the foyer before the show begins help elevate the performance into an experience.

It’s a paradox that something so self-referentially theatrical can capture the imagination so fully.

Ultimately I think Señorita Marigny’s dream of putting on “the greatest show in town” may have come true.

The Snow Gorilla is at the Rose Theatre Kingston until 5 January 2014.

For tickets call: 0844 4482 1556 or visit

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