The Story of the Little Gentleman

The physical core of the The Little Gentleman is a large wooden crate, addressed to the show’s venue, which is slowly revealed to include numerous small doors and openings from which unexpected balloons, dusters and a small cup of coffee initially appear. (Full praise to designer Karen Tennent for making this a reality.) Eventually, the titular Little Gentleman (Pete Collins) makes his first appearance, all smiles and out to make friends. However, in this adaptation of Swedish author Barbro Lindgren’s story (by Scotland’s award-winning Catherine Wheels Theatre Company), it soon becomes clear that making new friends isn’t going to be easy for him.

Collins is an endearing performer, successfully using face and body to express his growing sadness and desperation as his various schemes to make new friends all fail.

Collins is an endearing performer, successfully using face and body to express his growing sadness and desperation as his various schemes to make new friends all fail. Then, just as he’s dozing, the Dog (Isabelle Joss) appears – excited by everything around it, and constantly on the lookout for biscuits. The Little Gentleman, while initially rather scared of this furry ball of enthusiasm – cue cartoon chase round and round the crate – has plenty of biscuits and gradually begins to realise that the Dog just might be the friend he’s been looking for. Yes, it might essentially be cupboard love as far as the Dog is concerned – at least initially – but the pair truly begin to bond through sharing some of the simpler pleasures of life, whether it’s throwing sticks in the park or sharing an ice cream.

Aimed at four-to-eight year olds (primary one to three), this production is full of energy, but remarkably light on dialogue – unless you count Joss’s truly impressive range of dogged yells and yaps. Despite this, under Gill Robertson’s expert direction, the narrative makes its main points simply and without fuss, although the final breaking of the “fourth wall” – as the Little Gentleman begins to realise the friends he can make through sharing the Dog with others – does feel a mildly disconcerting given the previous opportunities to do so. Overall, though, this is another strong show from a company with a well-deserved international reputation in children’s theatre – and an excellent, if all-too-brief, addition to this year’s Imaginate Festival.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A funny and moving story about the power of friendship. Based on the story by Swedish author Barbro Lindgren, Catherine Wheels return with an inspired re-telling of this much-loved classic celebration of friendship and acceptance. (Age: 4-8 yrs)