4 Min Read

Whimsical and Utterly Funny: The Snow

Seeing a show called The Snow during Perth’s current cold snap is almost a taunt to those of us who have been whinging about our freezing fingers and toes all week, but the foyer of the State Theatre Centre’s Studio Underground was full of children and adults all buzzing with anticipation on opening night, our whinging forgotten in the face of the Christmas-like paper snowflake decorations and colouring-in sheets.

Once in our seats, intrigued by the beautiful cloth painting of a snow-covered mountain on stage, we were welcomed to country by Olman Walley who gave a heartfelt, personal, and entertaining welcome, complete with beatboxing on the didgeridoo. What a way to begin.

Four storytellers and a live piano-accordionist told the story of Thea Sutton, a small girl with a big plan to save her village from the snowfall that refuses to leave with the winter.

The Snow. Photography Daniel J Grant.

Grace Chow embodies the pint-sized Thea with great energy, giving us a protagonist whose small stature often prevents people recognising her ingenuity and hard work. Once the majority of the big strong adventurers have been squashed into a puddle in a hilariously gruesome catapult accident, Thea and her large, mute travelling companion, Olive (Charlotte Otton), are the underdogs who have to use their wits, their hearts, and their baking skills to save their village from staying snowed under forever.

The pair adventure through a litany of strange places to achieve their goal, all conjured by Zoë Atkinson’s whimsical and evocative set design. The interactive wooden set piece allows for a versatility of place and emotion that means we can never predict where our heroes will end up next. Just a few pieces of wood and canvas became a gorgeously painted cottage and its basement, a vicious forest that chases our heroes across a comically echoing canyon, and the pitch-black nothingness that they must wade through. While the soppy, love-conquers-all type ending is a reminder that the show is primarily aimed at young children, the story is utterly hilarious and has an infectious sense of fun that makes it enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

Like all the best children’s theatre, The Snow makes use of a whole range of theatrical toys to tell the story, including puppetry, animation, and shadows and projection. When Thea and Olive bring out marionette versions of themselves they are given more opportunities for humour and imagination, and the adorable mini-versions of their outfits and features create a smaller scale on which to tell a big story.

The Snow. Photography Daniel J Grant.

Andrea Gibbs and Isaac Diamond as the narrators were consistently side-splittingly funny, embodying a range of bizarre characters, like mean birds and Monty Python-esque dunces of horse-riding police. I found myself watching Andrea even when the action was elsewhere for the delight of her vast repertoire of facial expressions, and she and Isaac flipped between what felt like every accent under the sun, accurately but still with an irrepressible sense of humour.

Sound designer and composer Cathie Travers was not content with just creating the compositions for the show, she also played the piano-accordion live on stage for the whole 65 minutes. The comical instrument was used for humour often, like the police horse’s siren, but also gave legitimate accompaniment to emotional scenes, creating a gorgeous soundscape.

Finegan Kruckemeyer’s play has the whimsy and delight in the bizarre that marks a great children’s story, and Barking Gecko Theatre have brought it to life beautifully.

The Snow presented by Barking Gecko Theatre is on now at The Studio Underground from now through to July 15.