Little Gift

Platform, The Bridge, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


A HIGGLEDY-PIGGLEDY tower of suitcases looms upstage - lost property, maybe? Nearby, a dapper chap is wearing what could be a uniform - maybe he’s in charge?

Indeed he is, but the ‘lost property’ that The Man (Guy Hargreaves) deals with is the stuff that’s missing from countless drab, lonely lives. For the reclusive Ted, that entails re-entering the outside world, making friends - even going to the parties he dreams of ...

His is the kind of hopeless isolation that we know is lurking behind front doors across the country, but in this latest touring production by Rochdale-based M6 Theatre Company - staged in creative collaboration with our own Andy Manley - there’s an upbeat outcome that doesn’t just engage the target audience of three to seven year olds, it speaks to all of us.

From the moment Hargreaves picks up a ukelele and sings ‘Who will I help today?’ we’re hooked. No - he doesn’t have wings tucked under his jacket, but he has a lovely jaunty-genial air that inspires trust. Ted, on the other hand, is the epitome of sad.

Puppet-maker, Shona Reppe, has fashioned a grey-faced, shabby old codger who comes persuasively to life when Hargreaves takes him in hand. The transformative magic begins with the ‘little gift’ - a seed that, as it grows, gives a companionable focus to Ted’s days. It even lures him out of the house, whereupon those trunks and suitcases spring open to reveal wonderfully detailed locations - a sunny sea-side beach and a snow-scape among them - that Ted and his plant visit because, as Hargreaves says,‘We all need sunshine and fresh air to grow!’

The ever-resourceful M6 design team, headed up by Joss Matzen, has conjured everyday objects into crafty new roles - those suitcases are full of clever surprises! By the end, Ted’s life has blossomed - like the nimble-footed Hargreaves, he’s even dancing. Hurrah!

Little Gift is at Edinburgh’s Traverse on Friday 15 February and Saturday 16 February.