Billed as the first ‘scratch and sniff’ show, this imaginative piece issues every child with a smells booklet and instructs them when to sample the next smell with a song led by an engaging dog puppet, nicely managed and voiced by the versatile Mark Peachey. So delighted groans of audience repulsion punctuate the action.
Peter Edbrook (Mr Stink) and Lotte Gilmore (Chloe) in Mr Stink at Hackney Empire Photo: Tristram Kenton
Mr Stink, hero of David Walliams’ bestselling children’s novel - played with humour and dignity by the engaging Peter Edbrook - is a smelly tramp who has known (much) better times, as we eventually discover. He is wise, and in many ways a better parent to Chloe (Lotte Gilmore, who does excellent work) than are her own parents. Feisty but troubled Chloe befriends Mr Stink and takes him home - think Skellig crossed with The Lady in the Van.
There’s a lovely performance from Irvine Iqbal as Raj the shopkeeper and the same actor’s take on the prime minister is great fun. Julia J Nagle is terrific as Chloe’s ghastly, campaigning, Margaret Thatcher-like mother and she sings beautifully.
It’s a cheerful, enjoyable, well-paced show with some tuneful songs by Matt Brind, which works theatrically because, although it plays comically on the incongruity of the contrast between Mr Stink and everyone else, there is serious and perceptive exploration of human relationships.