Stick Man at The Orchard Theatre
On Monday 26th November I had the pleasure of taking my son and my parents to see Stick Man at The Orchard Theatre.
Expectations were high as this is a Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler masterpiece and I was interested to see how well this would translate on stage.
The story is based around an extraordinary day in the life of Stick Man who leaves the Family Tree for a jog and ends up being used as a fetch toy for a dog, by a Swan to build her nest and gets washed up on a beach where after being used as a bat he eventually ends up on a fire.
He finally gets back to the Family Tree courtesy of a ride on Santa’s slay which nicely wraps the show up and encapsulates the magic of Christmas.
The production starts with a minimalist lighting stake and set which works very effectively and the Family Tree was signified with a large Heart prop which Stick Man, his Lady Love and the three Children were held up against which gave a lovely back drop. There was a small percussion section set up stage right and along with the sound track that ran throughout the show one of the Actors also played various instruments at significant moments to add climax and interest to the piece. The two main Actors were excellent, the puppeteer of Stick Man made good use of physical theatre and his facial expressions to interpret the character perfectly. The lady who played Stick Man’s Lady Love had to multi role into many different parts including the Dog and the Young Girl all of which were delivered convincingly. There were many choreographed moments in the show where all three Actors showed their dance competence as well as choreographed fight scenes using dislocation of action which were highly successful. There were also sections which were sung through which kept the young audience very engaged as well as some audience participation where the characters came out into the audience in a bit of a chase scene. This gave the children the opportunity to interact with the cast along with later on in the piece when the Actors were batting a large beach ball out into the audience for them to catch.
The use of props was definitely the highlight of the production, it was so simple but so effective and slick. Key moments being a sequence with Umbrellas used to create the storm and the Sea which was signified by a large blue magnetic band which wrapped around two of the Actors waists. They had a fairly intricate routine to wind in and out of the blue band to create the idea that Stick Man was wrestling in the sea and this was done superbly.
My only criticism of the production would be that I did struggle to hear at times. Being a young audience there is always going to be a bit of noise and it would have been good if the level of sound could have been louder to compensate.
For this reason only the production gets 4 stars from me and not 5. It’s a really delightful production and anyone with young Children who love the Story would be wise to book!
Review by Lydia Porter
To find out more about Stick Man and the next stops on its tour visit its website.