Scamp Theatre find themselves at Leicester Square Theatre once more following the summer’s Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales, as Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man returns for another festive run.
Stick Man lives with his family (“his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three”) up in their own little treehouse. They have a perfectly happy life, content together in “the family tree” – until one day Stick Man makes the unfortunate mistake of going out for a jog. Rather than getting some exercise and going straight back home, he ends up being significantly waylaid! The problem is, he really does look like just a stick – and so is a prime target for stick-fighting children, a vicious dog, a poohsticks-playing girl, a swan in need of a nest, a pair of holidaymakers, and a fire that needs topping up… Will he ever get back to the family tree?
Whilst the production does well to keep the action at a reasonable height, when booking tickets it’s always worth remembering with Leicester Square Theatre that the lack of raking might make it harder for children to see – thankfully there are booster cushions available to borrow, or a rather long front row to sit in! Interestingly, the show also comes out into the audience, as Stick Man hides from the dog, as well as the chance to play with a beach ball later on. This last part is particularly popular with excitable youngsters, and a moment to duck down to avoid being accidentally whacked in the head!
Benji Bowers has created another charming score, full of whimsical moments and plenty of catchy songs. Some of the music is performed onstage, including a memorable entrance for the sock puppet swan that’s accompanied by a saxophone solo (Alex Tosh). A whole island of percussion also produces some great sound effects.
Lara Cowin and Alex Tosh gamely support in various guises; Cowin has a ridiculous range of personalities to get through (from Stick Lady to dog, swan, and little girl), but does so deftly and entertainingly, with Tosh providing the music alongside having fun on the beach and emerging as a certain festive friend… Sam Heron is excellent as Stick Man, brimming with character and making the role unexpectedly physical – he mirrors the actions of the Stick Man figure, as well as exaggerating the battering and pain the poor guy is put through! The trio are a great team of storytellers who hold their audience (young and old) in the palms of their hands.
My verdict? A fun & charming family show that will fill children with delight – and you’ll be humming the tunes for weeks!
Stick Man runs at the Leicester Square Theatre until 7 January 2018. Tickets are available online or from the box office. There will be a relaxed performance at 1.30pm on Wednesday 29 November 2017.