If you want a wonderful retelling and reimagining of the classic tale, told by two talented performers on a deliciously simple, yet complex, set, then look no further. This is a children’s show that holds the audience and builds the story in the imagination of both young and old.
If you want a wonderful retelling and reimagining of the classic tale, told by two talented performers on a deliciously simple yet complex set, then look no further
The Gingerbread Man is the classic tale of the Gingerbread Man having to 'run as fast as he can' told by a traveller on a train station platform to the worker there to kill time because his train has been cancelled. As the story unfolds, the two actors play out all the various parts in the story; from the couple who first create the Gingerbread Man to the farmyard animals, to the people in the city to which he flees. At the end we find out who these apparent random strangers are, which is hugely satisfying.
How the Gingerbread Man comes to life at the start is beautifully created with initially subtle puppetry and lots of audience interaction from everyone, especially the children. This follows a raucous cake-making session with flour, sugar and spices literally going everywhere and filling the very young members of the audience with slapstick delight. While the farmer tries to dunk the Gingerbread Man in his tea, the farmer’s wife tells him to run away with the all important catch phrase.
There are really delightful scenes and intelligent directional choices throughout the piece. There are moments where the actors play the chase parts of the story out in physical slow motion which is an inventive touch and hugely funny. Most of the set is constructed with different suitcases which turn into: an oven, a church, a city filled with sky scrapers, banks of a river, and even travelscapes for some of the most famous landmarks in the world including the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal. The fox in the river segment of the traditional story (which in this version does not end where you think), is again achieved with simple, yet effective, props and set and very skilful puppetry. The performers themselves at times leap about in a carefree, yet specifically, choreographed way: sometimes springing onto a ladder fixed into the set only by its two ends, sometimes jumping from standing to on top of a tall suitcase. They move with fluidity and grace and acrobatic precision, yet still seemingly effortlessly, acting out all the different characters. There is a fun song with four geese puppets with words that were telling part of the story, but the song was sadly too quick for all the words to be understood. There was a hilarious puppet gospel choir scene in a church that developed out of a very large box - a scene that notably could easily have been longer especially as the audience were clapping along.
This show was billed as being suitable for ages three and up, yet there were audience members from the ages of zero with no discernible upper limit. It’s true to say that whatever the age, audiences will find something in this to enjoy, although perhaps ages three, or even four and upwards would find it more enjoyable. With the story developing in a different way from the traditional one and with a pleasingly open ending, this is a production that adults, as well as their children, would enjoy. A clever, funny, fantastic production, very skillfully designed, staged and performed.