Little Gift offers 'a tale of friendship and hope'

Little Gift offers 'a tale of friendship and hope'

credit: Lewis Wileman

Andy Manley's latest directorial venture tells the story of a lonely man whose life is changed when a new friend enters his world

It's not unusual to find a piece of children's theatre billed as 'a tale of friendship and hope' and, having built an entire career out of creating such works, Andy Manley knows a good one when he sees it.

Best known in Scotland for his plethora of high quality shows for young audiences, including White, Stick by Me and Night Light, Manley's latest directorial venture is with Rochdale-based children's theatre company M6. The story of Ted, a lonely man whose life is changed when a new friend enters his world, Little Gift treads the well-loved path of rebirth.

'Tales of rebirth are fascinating whatever age we are, but this is definitely one of those stories that is particularly pertinent to young audiences,' says Manley. 'Someone open to change and new experiences, and the transformation that happens to them as a result. Little Gift is for 3-6-year-olds, so many of them have new experiences coming up in their life, such as going to nursery or school, and the show is able to reflect that change.'

A blend of puppetry (designed by that other stalwart of Scottish children's theatre, Shona Reppe), live music and song, the show is performed by Guy Hargreaves whose surroundings are represented by a pile of suitcases that move and transform as the show develops. Ted (the puppet) lives in one of the cases, and Hargreaves uses a range of everyday objects, from a zip to a spoon to a comb, to tell his tale.

'I like objects,' says Manley, 'and I'm more interested in honest things that transform, rather than pretend things that are painted or created. It feels playful to me to say "okay this is a green spoon but let's pretend it's a plant". It's a game that children enjoy and I also think it reflects the changing and transformative themes of the show.'

Platform, Glasgow, Wed 13 Feb; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 15 & Sat 16 Feb.

Little Gift

Children's show about an old soul who gets a surprise visitor, told through puppetry and original music. Suitable for ages 3–7.