The Gingerbread Man is a bizarre story. A gingerbread man comes to life and goes on an adventure to be eaten by the fastest, nicest, cleverest person he can find. That person ends up being a malicious fox.
Hiccup Theatre’s version doesn’t attempt to solve any of the original story’s problems. Instead, it tells the story as it is, interlaced with snappy music and self-conscious humour.
The show works from a charmingly simple set of wooden crates piled up against a wall. The actors make music using wooden spoons and bowls, and these utensils also provide material for the show itself: wooden spoons become forests, croissants become moustaches, an oven mitt becomes the Gingerbread Man’s bed.
The self-deprecating humour of The Gingerbread Man is what makes it so endearing. The show parodies its own use of utensils while the bakery boy is on his journey: “there’s a fork in the road”.
It breaks its own rules, too; at one point it is decided that wooden crates cannot be used to represent a green field. To the amazement of the children in the audience, a strip of grass is rolled out.
That’s what’s beautiful about The Gingerbread Man – it doesn’t reveal all its tricks at once. The only flaw is that there were a few moments when the performers lost their audience’s attention. Nevertheless, the show’s high points outweigh the few weak moments. This is a case in point that children’s theatre is open to the same detailed levels of craft as theatre for adults.