Stig of the Dump

Sun 13th November 2011

reviews

Katie Sands

at 22:09 on 13th Nov 2011

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A sense of uniqueness was immediately felt upon arrival, being presented with a newspaper as opposed to a traditional what-to-expect from the show. It was to serve two purposes: its first as a conventional programme, but more importantly its second inviting the audience to create an origami hat once the quirky document had been read.

After constructing my hat, the show begun! The creatively designed set incorporated bike frames, an extensive variety of copper pans and some mysterious looking sunflowers - the audience (with an average age of 8 years) was soon squealing with excitement. To compensate for set changes, the viewers were simply instructed to shut their eyes whilst anticipating what was next to come.

First and third person narratives were used to set the scene and create imaginative character descriptions, and Mind the Gap used puppetry to create the soon blossoming friendship between Barney (Daniel Collier) and the dump-dweller Stig (Alan Clay). Barney introduced this entertaining specimen to the concept of a 'jam jar' - to which Stig provided an animated response! He later performed a Jelly Baby fuelled jig to which the audience - of predominantly children - were alive with laughter.

Furthermore, the cast worked well to include them into songs throughout the 65 minute long performance (note: no interval), and they expressed incredible facial expressions and vocal tones throughout. The cast made appropriate use of the circular stage, and were often found to be dancing and running rapidly around, adding dynamism to the lively show.

Lou (JoAnne Haines) somehow managed to incorporate Lady GaGa into her script, although this seemingly went over the heads of the young audience. A variety of tunes, instruments and apt noises were used to create moments of tension and enchantment, yet the initial song used before the commencement of the performance became slightly repetitive. A further minor criticism regarding the venue was that the unreserved seating arrangement led to some seats having an obstructed view. There was no interval, yet this was not needed due to the relatively short running time.

In conclusion, Mike Kenny's adaptation of a Stig of the Dump proved itself to be an extremely entertaining evening, and perfectly transported the audience into a world of enchantment, laughter and disbelief. Character interrelationships were particularly impressive, and a feeling of positivity and humour circulated the venue (The Brewery, Tobacco Factory) upon exit. I would thorough recommend this show to all families with children aged 7-10, and I have no doubts that they would be sure to love the performance from beginning to end.

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Ellen Smyth

at 00:08 on 14th Nov 2011

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Mind the Gap presents Clive King’s “Stig of the Dump” which has been completely revitalised in its retelling by Mike Kenny. With a fresh, modern script that is as wacky as it is witty, the story of Barney (played by Daniel Collier) and his unique friendship with a ‘sort of boy’ Stig celebrates everything that is weird and wonderful. King’s novel has been adapted into a play with an interactive narrative that brings both Stig and his dump alive on stage. Director Tim Wheeler really uses the energy of the cast to their full potential as they clamber about the stage. You could tell the cast truly love every second of being on stage: their energy brought not only the play, but the entire audience to life. In fact, the pre-show excitement was almost as infectious as the ‘Mexican Wave’ the audience all did before the show began (you have been warned). Every single child present was positively fizzing with excitement throughout the play - a testament to the success of this magical Mind the Gap production. Mind the Gap is the UKs leading disability-related theatre company which aims to “dismantle the barriers to artistic excellence so that learning disabled and non-disabled artists can perform alongside each other as equals.” There really was something very captivating about Stig of the Dump- and I was pleasantly surprised to find that, as the very existence of Stig is being questioned, the script cuts just short of giving us a pantomime-esque chorus of “oh no there’s not/ oh yes there is” that I feared we might be due. This play is "jam-jar" packed with everything from glow in the dark cave drawings, to a Lady Gaga reference from Barney’s sister Lou (played by JoAnne Haines). Certainly the clever little “Daily Dump” newspaper the audience are given upon arrival is the most quirky theatre-programme-come-paper-hat I’ve ever been handed. Audience beware: with Stig of the Dump, paper party hats are mandatory, audience participation is encouraged and an adventure is guaranteed.

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