The Man Who Knows Everything

It’s pretty clear what kind of show we’re about to see when – as it becomes obvious that there isn’t actually a sufficient number of seats for all of the audience that’s turned up – an additional seat suddenly appears from behind the black curtain, with an expressive, otherwise disembodied hand pointing at it and giving a thumbs up.

It’s a genuine disappointment when the show comes to an end.

Barely has the audience then had time to settle down before Anna Larkin bursts out onto the “stage grass”. Flustered, she introduces herself as Ophelia – though, to be honest, she’s looking for another name. As the youngest daughter and least brave in her family, she’s now her ill father’s last hope, sent on a quest to find a magical golden feather from a magical golden bird which will apparently cure him. The problem is that she’s doesn’t think she’s brave enough to do the job and so needs some help. That’s when she conveniently meets the sock-washing Jack Stark who “modestly” claims to be the Man Who Knows Everything and can therefore help her find her prize.

Both performers ensure that this is a children’s show bursting with wit, energy and a gentle self-mockery of the production’s somewhat limited special effects budget, and the occasionally necessary overacting. Larkin and Stark are a perfectly matched team, ensuring that there’s no chance of boredom setting in. Almost every line of dialogue inspires a laugh of some kind; those that don’t are usually covered with some kind of physical comedy.

Much of the story is a succession of retellings of several classic folk stories, from Aesop to the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen; each retelling is filled with “business” utilising their limited range of props and costumes to the best of their ability. Arguably the show’s biggest production number – after Ophelia’s initial quest is over – is a dramatisation of The Emperor's New Clothes, although this isn’t to overlook the success of the regular side-steps into some of the fascinating facts known by The Man Who Knows Everything – with the disgusting subjects of bogies and rhino poo invariably getting the children’s vote.

This show is so smoothly performed at what appears like break-neck speed that it’s surely choreographed to within an inch of its life – no mean feat given the small size of the room. But there’s a freshness, an honest exuberance which is undeniable; Larkin and Stark are brilliant at turning what is essentially a nondescript function room into a magical playground filled with regal queens, foolish emperors and castle guards played by boggle-eyed sock puppets. It’s a genuine disappointment when the show comes to an end.

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn


One of Two

Scottish Storytelling Centre

Moira in Lockdown

Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

Love and Sex on the Spectrum

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

What would you ask someone who knew absolutely everything in the whole wide world? What would a dinosaur watch on TV? Why isn’t cat food mouse flavoured? Who invented alphabet spaghetti? What’s the smelliest food? What will I be when I grow up? Join Ophelia as she meets The Man Who Knows Everything, who shares some of the best stories in the world including Aesop's fables, Brothers Grimm and many more. Performed by two comic performers with decades of experience in music, puppetry, comedy and illusions, this is an unforgettable hour to stimulate everyone’s imagination.

Most Popular See More

Grease the Musical

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £32.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets