The Snow Child, Rondo Theatre, Bath

snowchild2THE Russian fairy story of The Snow Maiden has been given a make-over by Butterfly Psyche, and the results are on the stage at the Rondo in Bath until Sunday 20th December.

Set in the frozen north, it all starts as the spirits of the ancestors get together to talk about old times and tell tales, and the favourite is the story of a devoted couple, Elaine and Rodney, who want a child to complete their happiness.

On the night when the magic snow comes and the aurora  lights up the night skies, Father Frost and Mother Spring must decide whether to grant a human wish, made in pure love.

He’s against the idea. If they make a child from the snow, as soon as its heart is broken it will melt away. But she’s persuasive, and so a child is created, named Snow, and sent off to find her new parents.

It’s a hard life for the villagers, who must brave the harsh winters, snatch a chance to hunt the food that will keep them going until springtime, and fend off the hungry polar bears.

Butterfly Psyche founder Alison Farina, who wrote and directed this magical show, captured the atmosphere of a nomadic people and their rituals and traditions with power and poignancy. Her five actors, Beth Caudle, Dominic Creasey, Charlotte Ellis, Phoebe Kemp and Piers Wehner,  bring spirits, humans, sled dogs and ice bears to vivid life on the stage of this intimate theatre.

Snowchild3The company specialises in mime and movement, and the Whale Blubber Dance is, I suspect, an indelible memory for performers and audiences.

And the play subtly also makes some powerful points about the battle for survival for humans and animals in a warming world – particularly apposite in the week following the signing of the climate change treaty.

It is the perfect winter show for very young audiences, and is partially signed for additional accessibility. Having recently visited an Alaskan Native Heritage Centre, where dan­cers from indigenous tribes tell their stories to visitors, I can vouch that the hand movements are not so far from the dances performed there every day.

There are performances at various day and evening times until Sunday. For more information, visit the website,


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