Wolves may be in the title, but tutti frutti’s children’s show is all about the sheep. Its familiar story is told by three busily knitting grannies, while the stage is crowded with woollen costumes and decorations. And at the heart of the reimagined tale is a winter jumper competition – though it’s the high-fiving, flossing, shoulder-shrugging ewes and rams themselves who are the real winners here.
In the hands of playwright Mike Kenny, Aesop’s slender fable becomes a full hour of storytelling, singing and silliness. The tale revolves around reluctant shepherd, Silas, his knitting-mad mum and his ageing but lively grandad, whose boots young Silas has to fill. An energetic ensemble of three actor-musicians share out the roles, switching rapidly between storytellers, shepherds, sheep and – briefly yet scarily – the wolves that prowl the mountains.
As always in tutti frutti’s work, the story is told with imagination and visual flair. Wendy Harris’ production is full of beautiful little details, from the miniature light-up houses and knitted mountains of Hannah Sibai’s set to the subtle but sinister physicality of the approaching wolves. Fun, unexpected touches – like the dancing sheep – break up the drama and keep the attention of the young audience.
At times, it feels as though the material has surely been stretched to breaking point, but then tutti frutti come up with another surprise to keep the show from unravelling. Like the best woolly jumpers, The Boy Who Cried Wolf is warm, colourful and just the right level of zany.