Snigel and Friends (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

Snigel and Friends

Dancer Caroline Bowditch's first creation for babes in arms is perfectly realised

Dancer Caroline Bowditch has re-imagined the Snigel the snail character she created for her recent promenade performances during the Edinburgh Children's Theatre Festival, taking her out of her wheelchair and onto the ​dance stage in a show for very young children.

The result is a properly delightful experience; a tuneful, gurgling, roly-poly piece of dance theatre which, in its completely non-threatening presentation, is perfectly aimed at an audience of 6–18 months.

The success of performance for this age-group is very much dependent on its delivery. Designer and collaborator Laura Hook has created a space where the audience sit on either side of a six-inch high stage, facing each other. This leaves Bowditch at exactly the right level for babies sitting on blankets and cushions around her.

Younger audience members might not appreciate all of Hook's brilliance in her attention to design detail, with its sheltering leaves above Snigel and her cicada, butterfly and bee friends. But these design details make it easy for parents to put their babies down on the floor, where they can best appreciate the show.

Bowditch's choreography is more to do with basic movement than breaking out into dance moves. Her squelching around the stage as Snigel, musician and dancer Zac Scott's strange low-down scuttling as a cicada, and Alex McCabe's floaty stiffness as a bee help create characters rather than a dance spectacle.

In terms of narrative, there are some snail eggs that are wrapped up and later come into glowing, colour-changing life. But mostly this is about the characters discovering and using sound, colour and texture – then sharing it with their audience in a manner that continues the inclusive feel.

Tiny bubbles float around – the smaller they are the longer they last – silken squares of glistening material float onto baby's heads and long plastic tubes make simple musical instruments. Here is wonder indeed.

Dance Base, until 27 Aug (not 18–21), 3pm (also 1.30pm on 26), £9 (£7).

Snigel & Friends

  • 4 stars

Inviting new work for children aged 0–12 months and their grown-ups. Join Snigel, the inquisitive snail, in a cozy home underneath the leafy canopy.