Returning to the West End for a short Christmas run, this is a delightful, simply-staged show for young children.
Mark Kane (Stick Man) and Emily Pollet (Stick Lady Love) in Stick Man Live on Stage at the Leicester Square Theatre, London Photo: Steve Ullathorne
Scheffler and Donaldson are the duo behind the Gruffalo, and this is a similarly taut, surprising and hugely enjoyable story of a journey. This time it is of a stick person who is thrown into a river and has to find his way back to his family in time for Christmas, combating, inter alia, a dog, a park warden, a girl and finally snow and the threat of becoming firewood.
The problem of injecting life and form into, well, a stick, is neatly solved by having the recreated stick from the book held by Mark Kane who is slim enough to look a bit like our hero himself, with sticky up hair and an engaging manner. He is ably supported by a lovely cast who really enjoy what they are doing and there are some deft touches. I particularly like Benji Bower’s music, played on a variety of instruments by Joseph Carey, which in particular evoked the swirling of a river brilliantly. And the recreation of the seaside, when our poor stick is used as a cricket bat, was very effective with a few props and some soft lighting beautifully evoking the beach atmosphere. And parents will be happy that this was suspenseful and gripping without ever being frightening.