This kids’ show tells a rather lovely story, with something in it for everyone. The action begins with a family getting ready to visit their popular Grandfather, who in his heyday had been a great adventurer travelling to unusual places in the world. Granddaughter Evie (Charlotte Chin) is closely guarding a present that’s been bought for him: a small cuddly husky toy, his favourite animal. But just before they leave for the visit, a telephone call comes through with the news that Granddad has suddenly passed away.
Evie is blissfully unaware of this, and that night she is woken by a life sized husky, Kunak (played by a human actor, Colin Burnicle). What follows is Evie’s own expedition around the world accompanied by the canine, and the discovery of the legend that made her Grandfather a hero in the eyes of others.
The company performed with zest and enthusiasm throughout, and there were some priceless moments. The entrance of a larger-than-life kangaroo, played brilliantly by Ben Hammond, was one of them, and the song sung by Rebecca Bailey as the ‘one night only flower’ was also a delight. Whilst both Hammond and Bailey skilfully played all the other roles needed, Chin did a great job at sustaining the earnest Evie on her adventure alongside the believable canine mannerisms of Burnicle. There were some fantastic costumes, catchy songs, and a little dancing – plus plenty of storytelling and the odd touch of silliness here and there too.
Although I totally appreciate that you need to capture your young audience in the first few minutes, I did find the beginning of the show a little too noisy and frenetic, and I’m not sure that it really needed to be quite as chaotic as it appeared. I was relieved when the pace slowed down and the action took on a calmer quality. I also found some of the scene changes a little clumsy at times, distracting attention from the poignancy unfolding on stage.
Nevertheless, there is much to be taken away from this performance. It was admirable to see a children’s show unafraid to tackle the issue of death and loss, which the company did with great sensitivity. The message that it is “alright to feel sad or frightened” was repeated in several different ways. And I was really touched by what’s probably the most vital message of all, mirrored by the story within the story. The Snow Dog tells us that it is important to cherish our grandparents, and to appreciate them whilst we have them… especially if we only have the one, for they won’t be there forever.
I won’t spoil the ending for you, but the final scene and appearance of the very last character made me smile from ear to ear. The appreciative sounds of the children and adults alike came thick and fast. A gentle, magical and touching production and, to use their words, I loved the very bones of it.