REVIEW: Sticking with Julia

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Stick Man, Warwick Arts Centre, Saturday, 17th December, Runs until Saturday, 31st December.

JULIA Donaldson has written some of the most popular children’s books of recent years — and bookshelves up and down the country, and, indeed, across the world, are adourned with the likes of The Gruffalo, Zog, The Smartest Giant in Town, and A Squash and A Squeeze.

Slowly these characters are being brought to life by small theatre companies, and the stories are being reinvented live on stage. Stick Man is the latest.

For children it’s the simple things, and the story of a stick doesn’t get much simpler.

The challenge is making a simple story of how a man who looks like a stick gets literally carried away from his home, a sycamore tree, by a dog, a girl, a swan and then the sea captivating enough to stretch it beyond its 32 pages and into an hour-long show.

I’ve seen several Julia Donaldson stories brought to life, and they have all worked. Bedfordshire-based Scamp Theatre is the company behind Stick Man, which has run to critical acclaim in the West End.

This is essentially a puppet show, told by just three actors.

Their set is minimalist and their interaction with their young audience made this hour bump along at a joyful pace.

It has Father Christmas, but lacks the snow from the book, but will still warm the heart this festive season!

Review by Chris Smith