JOYCE MCMILLAN on STICK MAN at the Spiegeltent, St. Andrews Square, Edinburgh, for The Scotsman 1.12.14.
3 stars ***
IT’S ONE OF THE MOST beloved of 21st century children’s stories, and – so they say – the only story by the great Julia Donaldson to feature Christmas as part of the narrative. So it’s not surprising that Scamp Theatre’s 50-minute stage version of Stick Man, playing at St. Andrews Square until 4 January, makes a gorgeous seasonal show for younger children, albeit one that takes a little bit of time to find its narrative rhythm, and its audience-participation mojo.
The story is the gloriously simple one of a little stick man who lives in the family tree with his stick lady wife and children three (yes, there’s plenty of rhyme), but who goes out for a run one day, and finds himself caught up in a series of mishaps and adventures that take him away from home for months, until it’s almost Christmas. Using live music by cast member Gordon Cooper, a simple but ingenious set, and some strikingly sharp choreography, the three-strong company tell the story in fine, lucid style, although the movement often seems stronger than the script. And by the end, the children in the audience are wholly caught up in the simple, heartfelt dynamic of a tale which contain a quietly powerful message about not judging only by appearances; and remembering that the most ordinary-looking fragment of creation can have a heart, and a love, and a home to which he or she longs to return, at Christmas, or any other time of year.