Salford Arts Theatre; Wednesday 17th July, 2019
Salford, the summer of 2019: the lure of the blazing sun entices a buzzing swarm of idling schoolchildren to their grim teenager’s hideout: a dire patch of wasteland where a mattress tossed on a pallet counts as a place to sit – this is the real Salford, it’s either that or an upturned shopping trolley.
In this world of outcasts and wannabes girls are learning to fight, Sk8er Bois are looking to get stoned. But something bigger than teenage life is going on in this school and everyone needs to talk about it: the mysterious disappearance of Sam Norwood.
He’s not been on Instagram for days. The girl claiming to be his girlfriend says she’s grieving and has turned to God, she’s even watched Titanic nine times since he went off the radar.
No one’s heard anything from him it seems. Some of the kids admit that they once wished that he would just disappear, now they’re feeling really bad about it.
A confusing and complicated teenager’s web of theories begins to slowly emerge. One kid reckons They have definitely killed him, or maybe he actually managed to run away from Them and will come back when he knows it’s safe.
Sam’s dog is also missing, could he have been eaten by his own dog??? It needs discussing, and there is no shortage of speakers on this and every other subject.
Or maybe it’s the dreaded canal-side Pusher?
The idle chit-chat seems infinite – it feels like there are a hundred Sams who’ve gone missing and we’re all looking for a different one, observes one impressively rational thinker.
The desperation escalates, which, when coupled with the absence of any genuine facts, serves only to make the whole situation even worse.
Though punctuated with ample doses of sarcastic and witty humour, the production does very well to build a dark pessimism from the start and to then increase it further: there is a clear suggestion that the search for the missing boy isn’t going to end well. Theatrically, this gradual wind-up of the audience makes for a captivating spectacle.
Various adolescent angsts come through in this performance. The elusive “They” are an unseen gangland force, they seem to be out there, like some sort of villain hiding in the bushes. These kids are being pulled into a world that they don’t want to be in, yet there’s a climate of fear compelling them to just submit and accept the inevitable.
The realism and authenticity is 100% genuine: this is a play written by a seventeen year old and performed entirely by teenagers. The confusing build-up of mystery and possibilities is real: these are literally their issues, the same ones that are making real-world news all too often.
The Melting Of A Single Snowflake is a dark mood, a foreboding hour of uncertainty. The final reveal and the twist that accompanies it are a little far-fetched in extent but theatrically the end is still genuinely shocking and very much in line with the overall direction of the performance.
Short, sharp and innovative, this play presents itself as a pleasing nugget of fringe theatre crafted and delivered by Salford Arts Theatre’s very own young performers company – a chaotic world of puberty, sexuality, drugs and Year 9 politics; a world of suspects and culprits where teenage grievances are settled with adult vengeances – truly a volatile world where the melting of a single snowflake can lead to an avalanche.