Left – John O'Hare and Romy Watson. Photo – Heidrun Lohr
Mr Stink stinks. He positively reeks. He farts and belches on stage (much to the constant amusement of the kiddies) and yes, you can literally see the stench emitting from his threadbare suit; yet for someone seemingly oblivious (to society’s niceties), Mr Stink is a principled man. A man, who respects and accepts, is compassionate and courageous. A character pure of heart and a most worthy protagonist, in the latest offering from CDP Kids Productions, currently playing at the Arts Centre Melbourne.
Adapted for the stage by Australian writer, Maryam Master, and based on David Walliams book of the same name, Mr Stink, is a work that respects its audience. It doesn’t shy away from macabre or sinister themes, but instead utilizes humour and irreverence, to reward them with a production that is beguiling, touching, thought provoking and just a little bit naughty.
Amongst the loneliness and isolation, the bullying and the pretence of posh, it explores the incredibly difficult and ever growing social issue of homelessness. Ridiculed and maligned, Mr Stink, a vagabond as he prefers to be called, speaks of Chloe’s friendship as “unimaginable kindness” and he in turn tenderly encourages her (in the absence of her mother’s approval) “that you can only shred paper – not the imagination.”
The plot moves at a cracking pace. Cleverly condensing the 272 pages of the book into 60 minutes and holds the interest of its audience, both young and old. So engaging it is, that even when Raj, the delightfully colourful owner of the newsagent, breaks the fourth wall, a little person behind me utters, “who’s he talking to?” Aaw sweet.
Under Jonathan Biggins' direction, all the cast (with Amanda Laing and Darren Sabadina portraying three a piece) delivered nuanced, witty and heartfelt performances, rather than exaggerated caricatures.
James Browne’s set design was inventive and injected with humour, so too was Lucy Scott’s costume design – providing opportunities for some nice visual gags.
Mr Stink is an intelligent piece of theatre that manages to avoid coming across all preachy whilst still telling a rollicking tale.
David Walliams inspires a love of reading in millions of children globally. Let’s hope this production inspires countless children in Melbourne, a love of the theatre.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents a CDP Kids Production
by Maryam Master | based on the book by David Walliams
Director Jonathan Biggins
Venue: Playhouse | Arts Centre Melbourne
Tickets: $26 – $45
Dates: 1 – 9 April 2017
Bookings: 1300 182 183