Brian Hargreaves, Emily Pollet, Mark Kane.
Based on the best-selling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Stick Man is not the most lavish of chidren’s shows but it has an endearing simplicity.
Scamp Theatre present a simplified take on the story of a stick, his lady love and his three stick children using a basic array of props.
The titular Stick goes out for a jog and is beset by one calamity after another: he’s used as a dogs chew toy, thrown in a river and almost used as fire wood.
Each of these catastrophes leads him further and further away from the stick family tree and so he enlists the help of a friend to finally get him home.
In Sally Cookson’s simple production, the river is represented by a large sheet of blue paper and snow is depicted using a white umbrella and white paper circles. Combined with the committed and enthusiastic performances from the cast, this stripped-down method of staging creates an engaging and enjoyable show that will appeal to very young children.
There were many under 7′s in the audience when I attended, all shouting at the stage and laughing whenever the actors fell over, but the somewhat unadorned staging failed to enchant some of the older children and, in the words of my 11 year old companion, older children may find it “very babyish.”
There is also very little to engage accompanying adults making this very much a show for children (and small children at that), rather than one a whole family can enjoy.
The younger audience members were delighted with it and the performances are all engaging and lively, each actor playing at least ten different characters. I particularly enjoyed Mark Kane as the Stick Man. From the moment he set foot on stage his stiff demeanor and rigid stance were spot on.
The use of music was inspired and I particularly enjoyed the Stick Man theme tune, which I found myself continually humming on the tube ride home.
Though intentionally unsophisticated, Cookson has crafted a funny and fluid production. It lacks the magic of some larger scale childrens productions but young kids who are already fans of the book are sure to enjoy this faithful, if slightly flawed, adaptation.