Stick Man (4 stars)

Stick Man

Julia Donaldson's creation comes to life just in time for Christmas

For most children, recreating the action-packed visuals in your average film, game or app is pretty impossible. But, should they be so inclined, emulating the cast of Stick Man back home in their bedroom after the show is eminently possible.

There’s a charming simplicity to this production that sends a very clear message to the young minds watching it – you could do this, too. Readily available items such as umbrellas, beach balls, rubber rings, coloured paper and, of course, sticks all play a part in bringing Julia Donaldson’s picture book to life. Proving that innovative direction and set design can trump a big budget any day.

Donaldson’s book has no shortage of fans, and for good reason. The clever rhymes, repetition and ever-increasing peril the eponymous hero finds himself in all make for great reading out loud. So it stands to reason it would work well on stage. Having good source material, however, is only the start. To turn Stick Man into a great live show Scamp Theatre needed to think outside of the box.

Each misadventure our hero falls into, from being toyed with by a dog to almost burning on a fire, is cleverly played out. Not just through astute use of props, but by the three performers who breathe life into each role they play.

Glasgow-born Gordon Cooper has spent the past 12 Christmases on the panto circuit, and it shows – in the best possible way. Small faces light up as he asks the audience to locate the naughty dog who has made off with Stick Man in his jaws, or throw back a beach ball batted into the crowd.

Then, when a certain someone drops down the chimney to take Stick Man home to the family tree, it begins to feel a lot like Christmas.

Reviewed at Edinburgh's Christmas 2014. St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh, until Sun 4 Jan.

Stick Man

  • Directed by: Sally Cookson
  • Written by: Julia Donaldson (book), Axel Scheffler (book), Benji Bower (music)

Scamp Theatre use puppetry, live music and songs to present Julia Donaldson’s popular picture book about a stick man trying to get back to the family tree.