Kids theatre: Little Gift (4 stars)

Kids theatre: Little Gift

credit: Lewis Wileman

M6 Theatre Company's adorable show for young children sends a gentle message about the power of kindness

A huge pile of suitcases can mean many things: an airport strike, a department store sale, lost property. Greeted by this chaotic mountain of cases of all shapes, sizes and colours on arrival, our interest is immediately piqued: why are they here, and what's inside them?

Guy Hargreaves has all the answers, and with an infectious warmth, curiosity and excitement, he beckons us into his world. Hargreaves' job is to help people and, pulling on his uniform and cap, he sets off to work. 'Who will I help today?', he sings, before venturing into the busy town, listening closely to each suitcase (cleverly doubling as homes) until he finds his target: Ted, a gorgeous puppet made by Scottish children's theatre stalwart Shona Reppe.

Each step Hargreaves takes towards solving Ted's problem is aided by an ingenious use of set or props. Keen to observe Ted's dreams, he plucks the pillow from beneath the old man's head and pulls out a piece of string covered with objects indicating Ted's plight. A balloon, dancing shoes, party hat – Ted wants to enjoy himself but has no friends.

The clever set design keeps on giving, as suitcases open and simple objects take on new meaning, while Hargreaves thinks of an inspired plan to get Ted outside and meeting new people. Children learn about the trials, tribulations and rewards of friendship very early on, so by the time they've reached this show's target age group (3–7), they're fully onboard with the need to connect and have fun, and easily invest in Ted's plight.

Witty, gentle, engaging and touching, Little Gift more than lives up to its title – and while Hargreaves may be the one carrying the present, the whole creative team has signed the gift tag.

Reviewed at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

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.

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