Stick Man, Oh Stick Man! (He’s Live in the Family Tree!)

We were thrilled to bits when we were asked to come and see Stick Man – Live on Stage because we absolutely loved it last year and have talked about it ever since! The show is so good no wonder it’s back in the West End again this Christmas and we were not disappointed in the slightest. Even though we’d seen it before (and a year is a long time when you’re not even three yet) we couldn’t have felt more delighted with it. It was just as good, just as magical and the songs were just as catchy! Our trip to the Leicester Square Theatre was a superb success and because this time Daddy and Jimmy came with us, it was a real family day out!

And this was her face BEFORE it started!

I absolutely mean this when I say it : of all the shows for children that we review (and there are lots – it’s a bit of a thing for us), Stick Man is our top favourite! Scamp Theatre have captured it perfectly and for my money I’d see it again and again and never be bored! We do love the book by Julia Donaldson (who doesn’t?) but I wouldn’t from that have said the show would be Florence’s favourite, perhaps mine but not hers. There are other books and other TV shows which Florence loves and I would have expected her to like more live on stage but no, Stick Man wins it for her too! She’s been talking about it ever since the posters came out in the tube stations, remembered it from last year and she absolutely loved it when the day came! The thing about the show is that it’s so different from all the others, so entertaining for the whole family and just so darn clever!

Just three actors, one who plays Stick Man, one who plays all the other characters and one who plays all the sound effects and pieces of music from his music corner (as well as joining in for tiny parts) make this a really small but perfectly performed play! I’m not going to say exactly how they do it because I know between my Mummy friends it’s been a bit of a talking point and wonder as to how, then they’ve been thrilled when they see it and find out! Take it from me though, it is enormously clever and well thought out! The actors use their body and voices for effects and it is super slick so works really well! These guys have been doing it so long that they have it honed and there is nothing that could be faulted! Even in a moment when an audience member grabbed a prop (which had accidentally rolled off the stage) and didn’t want to give it back, the actors knew exactly how to handle it!

And even though they have used a tremendously detailed eye for all the props and the set, it’s really the actors who matter in this show. There’s no elaborate scene changes and the focus is primarily on telling the story, not on how dramatic they could make it. But as I said, the things they have used are so well done that you don’t even notice them. I like this style of performance very much and think for a little person it’s the perfect way to perform. It doesn’t patronise the young audience or talk to them like they’re idiots and most importantly, it stays true to the story with only a few well placed extras and  nothing left out! Sometimes I watch children’s shows and although Florence may be enjoying it I find it hard to concentrate and start losing the will. With this one it’s just so entertaining that I could really enjoy it with her and not just for her! My husband, who often rolls his eyes when I say he has to come, came away telling everyone at the birthday party which followed for us, that it was BRILLIANT! It’s also a superb time (just under an hour of performance) for children to sit in a theatre and leaves them while they’re still enjoying it and not when they’ve got down from their seat and are itching to run around! Florence wanted more and it’s much better to come away with that feeling rather than shoving your little one back in their seat every two minutes for the last half an hour while you shhh them. Even Jimmy, who is 6 months old, sat on my lap avidly watching!

The minimalistic staging and us about to enjoy ‘Stick Man’!

The whole show is a highlight if I’m honest but if I have to pick out some favourite moments then I’ll say this: Florence loved it when the actors came into the audience and when she got to try to catch the ball, Jimmy and I loved the songs which I have not only been singing ever since but have been singing for a whole year ever since we saw it the first time, Jonny loved the clever way the actors worked in unison and by the time it got to the end and the Christmassy bit we all just revelled in the festive-ness of it all! This is absolutely my ‘must see’ of the season and compared to lots of other shows it’s not wildly expensive at all – your children will love it and so will you!

Top points to note are:

The theatre is small and the seats are spaced out meaning no one’s head is directly in front of you. There is ample leg room and even at the back towards the side there is a very good view of the stage.

Free booster seats are available for all children should they not be tall enough.

Babes in arms do not need a ticket – it drives me mad when theatre companies expect you to buy a ticket for a tiny baby!

Stick Man – Live on Stage is showing at the Leicester Square Theatre from now until 6th January 2013. It is most suitable for children aged 3+ and their families. To book tickets and for more information about the show please see the website linked.