Reviewed by Kathryn Carr
I didn’t know who was more excited about going to see ‘Stick Man’ – me or my two-year-old daughter. The Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler classic that follows the misadventures of Stick Man and his quest to find his way back home to the Family Tree, is one of our favourite bedtime reads. I couldn’t wait to see how the story would unfold live on stage.
The story stays true to the book which came as an absolute delight to both the children and adults in the audience, who weren’t shy of reciting the script word for word. “I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, that’s me.” Although it follows the original narrative, the show also manages to be hugely unique. It’s more than a straightforward retelling of Stick Man’s endeavours, the theatre company have really dug deep to come up with imaginative ways to convey the story.
With a cast of just three, we follow Stick Man as he is snatched by a dog on his morning jog, thrown in the river by a lively, little girl, deemed the perfect twig by a nest-building swan and used as a bat on the beach. This adaptation by Scamp Theatre is truly heart-warming and the second the music began a smile erupted on my face. Whether you’re familiar with the book or not, this show is both touching and funny.
The story is padded out with both music and interactive elements, which the kids really loved. Stick Man was chased out into the audience by the dog, following a pantomime-esque ‘he’s behind you’ routine and his use as a bat saw a beach ball bouncing around the audience, with eager hands clambering to throw it back on stage.
The stage design is satisfyingly simple with basic yet brilliant puppetry, props and projection sparking the audience’s imagination as they join Stick Man in the park, on the beach and riding Santa’s sleigh. The show is rich in music with catchy songs and excellent use of a banjo, saxophone, drums and the actors’ own impressive vocal percussion. Babies are welcomed at the Lowry Theatre at Salford Quays where we saw the show, however, my other half did have to retreat to the bar with our four-month-old for whom the lively, loud music, enthusiastic shouts from the audience and use of a megaphone to warn Stick Man of impending perils was all too much.
The actors gave it their all with the resulting compassionate audience (did I really feel sorry for a twig?) testament to their storytelling skills.
At 55 minutes long with the story divided into easy to follow segments, Stick Man is the ideal show for little people. Big people will love it too. Recommended for ages 3+, the infectious rhythm of the music and the non-stop activity on stage held my two-year-old captive. She was even compelled to add her own commentary to complement Stick Man’s every move. I’m a Stick-ler for theatre, but if this fun, compelling and innovative production doesn’t charm you, nothing will.
Stick Man Live is currently on tour around the UK, for more information and tour dates visit stickmanlive.com.
The Lowry is a super family friendly arts venue, conveniently located in the North-West. There’s lots on offer for children of all ages and plenty more for child-free trips.
There’s always a lovely atmosphere with a buzz of excitement in the air and the staff are friendly and happy to help. The onsite bar and restaurant offer a variety of tasty treats with special deals for children, and with a multi-storey car park right next door, you don’t have to worry about searching for a space.
For other shows at The Lowry visit www.thelowry.com.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000