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Set takes the biscuit in Gingerbread Man tale with a twist

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The Gingerbread Man at the Corn Exchange, Newbury, on May 28 and 29. Review by ROBIN STRAPP

There was a party atmosphere for the start of the schools’ half-term at the Corn Exchange as excited youngsters eagerly carried their booster seats for the start of Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company’s inspired production of The Gingerbread Man.

This is a wonderful retelling of the well-known story given a fun-filled modern twist.

The Gingerbread Man
The Gingerbread Man

James Lewis’ magical, fascinating set was filled with amazing surprises, using trunks and suitcases opening to reveal an oven, seats and even a railway station where the action begins.

The two multi-talented hard-working performers, Hobbit and Jake England-Johns, soon had the audience enthralled by their skilled puppetry and physical theatre as they created a myriad of characters.

We met the hungry farmer whose wife bakes a gingerbread biscuit for him in a hilarious piece of slapstick as flour, sugar and cinnamon are abundantly added to the mix.

The Gingerbread Man
The Gingerbread Man

When the Gingerbread Man had been baked, he is sensitively brought to life as a puppet, much to the delight of the youngsters.

But when the farmer was about to dunk him in his tea and eat him the farmer’s wife tells him to, “run run away as fast as you can” and so his adventure began. He met the ducks and goat in the farmyard, all beautifully created by Holly Miller.

The clever set opened to expose a church wedding with a puppet gospel choir singing, the banks of a river where the crafty fox was searching for him and even a cityscape with a nightclub.

The Gingerbread Man
The Gingerbread Man

As the Gingerbread Man continues on his journey he travels to London, Paris, India, Sydney, Africa and the US, all inventively represented by suitcases lit with the famous landmarks of each country such as the Eiffel Tower – pure genius.

The athletic acrobatics of the actors were impressive as they jumped, backflipped and swung on a ladder fixed to the set by its two legs. Hobbit is an award-winning acrobatic actor and it showed.

But did the Gingerbread Man escape the clutches of the fox? In this production we were left in suspense.

Directed by Niki McCretton, this show was amazing.

  • N2’s reviewer said this show by far the best kids show he’s seen for a while. If the name seems familiar, James Lewis, who lives near Basingstoke, was the set designer for NYT for many years, designing the set for Just So that won the Booby Award at The Edinburgh Fringe which used the same technique of opening suitcases to reveal the set. “A very clever designer.”

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