London with kids: Stick Man live

Father-Hood.co.uk’s guide to the best things to do with your kids in London continues with our review of Freckle Productions’ live adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s Stick Man

Where is it?

The Stick Man live stage show is back for its 8th annual West End season. This year’s show has a running time of 55 minutes and plays at the Leicester Square Theatre from Saturday 20 October 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019.

As you can probably guess from its name, the theatre is situated just off London’s famous and bustling Leicester Square. This location makes driving to the venue challenging, but it is a short walk from both Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus underground stations.

How much does it cost?

According to the official ticket prices, Stick Man live will set you back £19 for children, £24 for adults and £75 for a family of four (two adults max). According to the internet, some discount ticket companies are offering midweek performance tickets for slightly cheaper than this.

Important note. On Wednesday 28 November 2018 at 1.30pm, there is a relaxed performance that features an environment that has been specifically adapted for families with an autistic spectrum disorder, individuals with sensory and communication disorders, those with learning difficulties and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. Tickets for this performance are open to everyone and cost £6. Call the box office on 0207 734 2222 to book.

What are the best things about it?

Aside from Fireman Sam, few things keep my son’s interest for 55 minutes. Add this to the fact that Stick Man is one of the few Julia Donaldson books we haven’t read to him, and it meant my wife and I fully expected the Bubster to “lose concentration, get fidgety and begin to be a bit of a nightmare” at around the 25-30 minute mark.

The fact our son did none of the above says a lot about a) the music – three days on, he’s still crooning “Stick Man lives in the family tree”; b) the way this Stick Man live adaptation manages to involve the audience in the story; and c) the quality of the entertainers on stage.

Each of the three performers are impressive, but Kate Malyon stands out thanks to displaying an especially varied repertoire as Stick Lady Love/the dog/the swan/the girl/the lady on the beach/Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.

The huge number of booster seats for kids is also a big plus.

Photograph taken by Paul Blakemore

And the worst?

I get that Stick Man live is on in the heart of London’s West End. I appreciate that much of the show’s charm comes from its simplistic stage design and no frills costumes. And I understand that kids love Julia Donaldson. But, given the running time and low-budget set, I would be pushed to describe £67 for two adults and a kid as anything other than expensive. Full disclosure: I was fortunate to be gifted press tickets.

Photograph taken by Paul Blakemore

Is the food any good?

The usual array of theatre drinks and snacks are available. Lots of kids devoured the popcorn, my wife had crisps and I mainlined a bag of gummy sweets #winning.

What are the toilets/baby change like?

Stick Man. Oh, Stick Man. Beware of cubicle two in the gents toilets. Just kidding. Although the toilets are slightly dated, they are absolutely fine. Better still, although the theatre doesn’t usually have a baby change, it sets up a table with a couple of mats during performances of Stick Man live.

Any special insider tips?

1. Try and get seats around 8-10 rows back in the middle of the theatre, as this will give you a decent chance of being involved in the beach scene.

2. If you want to drive, go to a Sunday performance. This allows you to skip the congestion charge and park on a single yellow line.

3. The theatre is just round the corner from Chinatown. Make sure you check it out before or after the show, as it’s always a fun place to walk around with kids.

The bottom line

A well-written, well-performed and fun adaptation of a Julia Donaldson favourite.

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