Pros: Fantastic choreography and wonderful musical accompaniment, sure to keep little ones enthralled.
Cons: The simplicity of the staging and humour won’t really appeal to kids older than seven or eight years old.
Stick Man has been a popular picture book in our household (as all Julia Donaldson’s stories tend to be), so we were really looking forward to seeing it brought to life on the stage. Scamp Theatre’s production certainly didn’t disappoint! It’s a wonderful story: Stick Man leaves his Stick Lady Love and three stick children in his family tree and goes out for a jog. Unfortunately, he meets various people and animals who mistake him for a stick (of all things!) and set to use him as they see fit. The dog has a nibble, the girl plays pooh sticks, the swan uses him to build a nest; you get the idea. Meanwhile Stick Man gets further from home, and ends up cold and alone on Christmas Eve.
The production is a mix of songs, story telling, humour and audience participation, underpinned by the most wonderful musical score performed on dozens of instruments by the very talented Alex Tosh’s one-man band. It was all spot on, and I had a smile on my face from start to finish for so many reasons. There is romance, peril, despair and a happy ending all in perfect measures to keep the show lively. The characters are wonderfully portrayed and perfectly cast – Richard Kiess and Cassie Vallance lead the cast with exuberance and energy that is totally engaging. Sally Cookson has thought of everything with the stage direction. Just at that moment when the children are getting restless from sitting still for a while, they get to join in with the show, bouncing a beach ball around the theatre. The most outstanding feature though, is the choreography, which flows and bubbles through the performance and is delivered with pinpoint precision, giving the production a polished finesse that is truly impressive.
I loved this performance and from the reaction of the children in the audience around me it was a big hit with the under fives. Lots of giggling, calling out, hand waving and even dancing filled the auditorium. I caught a few comments from little ones on the way out including ‘brilliant’, ‘loved it’ and ‘can we see it again?’ And thanks to the spacious Leicester Square Theatre with its bars inside the theatre, there are benefits for mums and dads as well.
We are blessed with a plethora of children’s theatre in London around Christmas time, not just the big West End productions, but off West End, fringe traditional plays and pantos leave us spoilt for choice. This adaptation of a familiar and popular picture book is certainly perfect if you have very small children and well worth a ticket for an hours reprieve from Christmas madness in central London on a chilly Saturday afternoon!
Author: Julia Donaldson
Composer: Benji Bowe
Director: Sally Cookson
Producer: Scamp Theatre
Booking until: 4th January 2015
Box office: 08448 733433