Stick by Me

Physical comedy and no shortage of laughs for the kids from the excellent Andy Manley

A wriggling finger breaks the stillness, working its way up and over a wooden desk and onto Andy Manley's sleeping face. It's a simple move, as are the facial expressions that follow, yet peals of laughter fill the theatre as the audience of pre-schoolers get the measure of Manley and his clowning abilities.

'This is a funny show,' says one tot, in what turns out to be a running commentary – or predictions – from several children of what Manley will do next. So attuned are Manley, and director Ian Cameron, to young audiences, the crowd is with him every step of the way.

Any child, or ex-child, who has ever brought home a pocket full of 'treasure', in the form of twigs, stones, and random scraps, from a day out will appreciate the friendship at the heart of Stick by Me. Discovering a lolly stick inside a cardboard box, Manley builds an instant bond with his tiny pal – playing and resting together, then performing emergency surgery with colourful tape when an unfortunate fracture occurs.

Not a single word is spoken, yet a myriad of emotions is communicated as Manley finds, loses, re-finds and re-loses his friend. There's no need for language, we all know what he's going through, no matter our age.

Set designer, Katherina Radeva takes the kind of props you find at home – sticky tape, lolly sticks, cardboard box, rope, table – and turns it into something special, which you could indeed try at home. Although possibly not in the house of one wee boy, who cautioned Manley 'don't waste tape!' during one particularly sticky encounter.

Reviewed at North Edinburgh Arts

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