Scamp’s joyous adaptation of Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson’s Stick Man is literally a show for all seasons, and all children: Stick Man’s innocent morning jog turns into a perilous action-packed adventure from spring to summer to snowy winter.
We meet the Sticks at home in their family sycamore tree out in the sticks, the gnarled little wooden tops manipulated by their animated personae: Mark Kane is Stick Man, bright-eyed and bushy- tailed, and Peta Dennis is Stick Lady, with three little stick children.
Prompted by Axel Scheffer’s drawings in the book, Sally Cookson’s production (beautifully designed by Katie Sykes) propels Stick Man through his encounters with the dog, the girl who uses him as a pooh stick, underwater swimming with the fish, a sunlit seaside game of rubber rings and beach balls (catch one if you can) and a snowy ride home with Father Christmas.
Running at 55 minutes, the show is just the right length for very small children, even two year-olds. Simple set, clever props and puppets, and good songs – the third actor is versatile musician Brian Hargreaves – maintain the atmosphere, and the impression that this area of children’s work is currently at a very high standard.