According to the Norwegian legend of Jostedalsrypa, when the black death decimated the village of Jostedal, only one small girl survived. She lived like a woodland bird, huddling to keep herself warm and foraging for food. In some versions, she even grew a handsome cloak of feathers. In the unheated environment of the Charlie Pineapple Theater—where audiences gather to watch actor-writers Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen perform their adaptation of the legend, The Snow Hen—such plumage would have been most welcome. Happily, management compensated with blankets and cups of hot chocolate.
As played by the diminutive Bos, this snow hen isn’t such a wild child, even if a motley assemblage of wings and feathers does sprout from her back. Left alone in a cottage, she amuses herself with tea parties and hair dryers, subsisting on a diet of dog biscuits and unboiled Top Ramen. The arrival of an immensely tall man (Thureen, towering in fur cape and platform boots) disturbs her solace. Together, they repurpose the detritus they find outside the cabin and devise rituals and games. They speak only rarely. The most illuminating exchange: “How did you get here?” “Catapult.”
The influence of Oliver Butler, credited with direction and development, isn’t strongly felt. Too often the stage action less resembles a finished work than an amalgam of rehearsal improvisations left unshaped. Certain moments surprise and others are unexpectedly joyful, but the beats don’t resolve into a sustained score. Like the complimentary cocoa, it’s awfully sweet, but one wishes it were spiked with something stronger.