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The Gingerbread Man review at Derby Theatre – ‘charmingly simple’

The Gingerbread Man by Hiccup Theatre and Derby Theatre. Photo: Robert Day

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.

Verdict
A fast-paced, joyous fairy tale for all ages

Production

Production
The Gingerbread Man
Venue
Derby Theatre
City
Derby
Starts
December 5, 2017
Ends
December 31, 2017
Press night
December 6, 2017
Authors
Hiccup Theatre
Composer
Ivan Stott
Director
Sarah Brigham
Set
Samuel Wilde
Lighting
Phil Bentley
Costume
Tim Heywood
Cast includes
Paula James, John Holt-Roberts, Ivan Stott
Producer
Derby Theatre and Hiccup Theatre
Running time
45mins