If you know a little person say six years old or under then there’s no doubt you may have heard of a children’s book called the Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. In fact Julia has written a number of books for youngsters that have gone down a storm both in and out of the classroom. Stick Man is one of those well-loved tales and, like the Gruffalo before it, has also been made into an animation and now a stage play.
Packing out the Quays Theatre at The Lowry, Salford during the October half-term Scamp Theatre and Freckle Production’s Stick Man is a delightful show from start to finish. With just three talented actors at the helm (Jennifer Greenwood, Robert Jackson and David Shute) it provides 60 minutes of non-stop family entertainment involving, song, dance and puppetry.
The story is a simple tale to tell, of Stick Man (yes, a man who is a stick), his Stick Lady Love and their three little stick children. When Stick Man goes out for a jog one day he ends up in a number of dangerous situations; he gets picked up by a dog; played with by a little girl and gets pecked at by a swan – all of which, for Stick Man, is pretty terrifying! His pleas of “I’m Stick Man that’s me and I long to be back in the family tree” are ignored as he is left stranded and alone, struggling to find his way home.
The majority of the show is sung, accompanied by music and sound effects which bring Stick Man’s story to life. Combined with this the actor’s physical movements and miming are used to full effect to really engage with the children’s imagination, managing to create an array of characters with minimal costumes and props. There’s audience participation a plenty as the cast run out into the audience creating a panto-style chase that has the kid’s joyous voices crying out in unison ‘He’s behind you’ plus there’s even a game of bat and ball to get everyone involved.
As a child of the 80’s the talented Stick Man trio of Robert, Jennifer and David reminded me of a Rod, Jane and Freddy for today (without the mad perms and bad dress sense and with 100 times more talent and panache). The kids loved them, the adults adored them too and by the end they made sure everyone had fallen in love with Stick Man and his family.
Stick Man runs at The Lowry until 30th October. Performances at 11am, 2pm and 4pm daily.