the boy who cried wolf

crucible studio

Prolific children’s writer Mike Kenny and tutti frutti once again bring us an imaginative show largely aimed at pre-school children.

For most of us the title is an expression so familiar it speaks for itself but four-year-olds will be hearing it for the first time as a story with the salutary lesson that no one trusts a liar even when he is telling the truth.

The tutti frutti style is for small versatile casts on a small versatile set. So under director Wendy Harris and movement director TC Howard, actors Matthew Hamper, Sally Ann Staunton and Thomas Edward-Bennett whom we meet as Silas the Boy, his mother and grandfather also play villagers, sheep and fleetingly a wolf along with playing accordion, violin and guitar and singing along to the daft songs composed by Dominic Sales.

Hamper is just right as the bored pre-teen who has to learn to grow up, Staunton makes a patient mum and Edward-Bennett has mastered the mannerisms of the shepherd beginning to feel his age. The set has an arched construction that serves as the family home and the perspective changes and it becomes the top of a snowy mountain with illuminated toy houses downstage representing the village.

One fears the youngsters may not follow all this but that doesn’t seem the case (and with only one needing a toilet break a sign that concentration isn’t wandering). But then the company get them on their side right at the start with a clickety-click song which had them giggling.

The clicking knitting needles introduced a recurring them of wool - the family raise the sheep on the mountains which eventually produces the wool the mother knits into scarves, gloves, jumpers, coats.

It’s very much a part of Kelly Jago’s visually pleasing design and you almost expect to see a credit in the programme for a knitter.

At under an hour it’s a light and simple piece which should give the kids something to think about but without laying on the moral in Aesop’s Fable too heavily

Ian Soutar