Based on the book by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Leicester Square Theatre
Back in the West End for a Christmas season of daytime performances is Scamp Theatre’s lively staging of former Children’s Laureate Juia Donaldson’s popular book.
It has a new cast with Richard Kiess as Stick Man, Cassie Vallance as his Stick Lady Love (and as a barking-mad dog among other things) and Alex Tosh playing a multitude of instruments and supporting characters.
They are an excellent team from the moment they enter on parade to a nifty number not only working together but getting that bond with the audience so important in a show that is designed for children aged three and upwards and gives opportunity for plenty of involved audience reaction.
The simple story of Stick Man who goes out jogging but gets caught up by a series of encounters that leave him far from home is told in a direct and straightforward manner that is entirely theatrical. It is a game that everyone becomes part of, acted out in a way that feels exactly the way a young audience might do it themselves, though it would take some terrifically talented tots to come up with the ideas director Sally Cookson does.
Katie Sykes’s setting facilitates things for the performers and gives us sea waves, snow storms and sand burials in imaginative ways, a furry dog who can chase through the auditorium and a shimmering shoal of silver fishes when Stick Man finds himself thrown into a river.
The lively score by Benji Bower helps keep the action going but it's the actors who make the magic cleverly convincing that both person and piece of stick can co-exist and both be the same Stick Man.
This is a show your little ones will love—and you too. This looks like becoming a London Christmas institution and a very welcome one too—there will always be new three-year-olds to enjoy it.
Reviewer: Howard Loxton