Based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s 2008 picturebook, Stick Man is a story of mistaken identity, that sees a decent family man taken further and further from home. Just because, as the old joke goes, he’s brown and sticky, doesn’t mean our protagonist is a stick: “I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man”, he insists, with increasing desperation, as he is used and abused by various characters for all manner of activities that require a stick. An innocent jog takes a disastrous turn as he’s grabbed by a slobbery dog; a little girl picks him as the perfect pooh stick and chucks him in a river; a swan takes him to build her nest, and on and on it goes, until he’s miles from his family tree, and the Stick Lady Love and stick children waiting for him there.
Scamp Theatre and Freckle Productions’ exuberant show feels like a panto, with plenty of silliness, songs, and audience interaction – there’s nautical-themed jokes you might pull out of a Christmas cracker alongside an abundance of stick-based puns, characters chasing each other through the audience, beach balls batted across the auditorium, and lots of shouting out. Of the trio of performers, one plays Stick Man throughout, while another takes on many of the characters he encounters – from beach bum to bum-biting pup – and a third plays an array of instruments, most notably a saxophone that is promptly muted by a swan sticking its beak in the bell.
Luckily, ‘tis the season of goodwill to all stick men, so our hero is saved from a sticky end. Aside from setting a scary precedent (might everything be sentient and just misunderstood?), this is a jolly, over-the-top romp through a beloved book.
Children’s Theatre Reviews exists to help plug the gap in criticism and writing about theatre for young audiences. It is run entirely voluntarily, and needs support to continue covering and supporting the sector. For more information and to help give children’s theatre the voice it deserves, please visit our Patreon page.