True story of unlikely animal friendship reimagined for Stratford Circus stage

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 December 2016

The polar bear, played by Sarah Shephard, meets Victoria Dysons husky. Picture: Ludovic des Cognets

The polar bear, played by Sarah Shephard, meets Victoria Dysons husky. Picture: Ludovic des Cognets


The creators of a play about a friendship between a polar bear and husky hope for a warm reception when it comes to the borough on Monday.

We absolutely love Stratford Circus,” said Katy Costigan, one third of Filskit Theatre Company. “They always get such great audiences, who just get it and the kids are always really excited.”

Katy, along with best friends Victoria Dyson and Sarah Shephard, created Breaking the Ice after Sarah saw a husky and wild polar bear meeting in similar circumstances on a TV documentary.

“It’s about how you may not be able to understand someone but you can still make friends,” said Katy, who plays the photographer in the show aimed at two to five-year-olds and their families.

“There is no text in it at all,” she added, saying this would be of benefit for many of the borough’s young children who speak a foreign language as their mother tongue.

A vivid display of shadow work, original music and sounds instead enables audiences to be transported to an Arctic land.

The mood is set by Norwegian composer Tordio Vaskis’ “atmospheric” vocals summoning everything from bear growls to the whistling winds of the cold setting.

The show starts with the photographer encountering the husky, played by Victoria, before Sarah’s polar bear enters the scene, with the two animals sniffing each other out.

“They end up being quite gentle to each other and start playing in the snow,” said Katy.

Without giving away too much, the story follows what happens when the sun rises and the new friends are forced to ovecome a separation.

“Our style as a company is not to patronise kids,” said Katy of the big issues discussed. “They can take on difficult themes.”

Young audiences can also immerse themselves with the characters on stage after the story has finished.

“They get quite emotionally engaged with the characters. They come and stroke us,” said Katy.

“They get to join our little gang and have a little arctic adventure together. They are itching to come up and play with us.”

Filskit Theatre Company, which has partnered with Unicorn Theatre for the show, has performed 100 performances of Breaking the Ice so far around the UK.

The show runs from Monday until Christmas Eve. Tickets cost £8-£10, visit for more information and to book.

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