Amusing and fun: The cowboy cat taught the kids how to count to nine when he sang about his nine lives. - RICKY LAI/The Star
Stuck is a play that will take you back to your childhood.
THE book Stuck, written and illustrated by award-winning Australian author, Oliver Jeffers, is an absolute delight.
Jeffers himself described it as “a book about trying to solve a problem by throwing things at it”. The story is about a boy named Floyd who gets his kite stuck in a tree.
In order to get the kite “unstuck”, Floyd throws everything from his favourite shoe to the house across the street and the lighthouse that was next to the house across the street till the tree gets too full and the kite falls out.
It’s quick, it’s funny and you can watch a video of Jeffers (who is kinda cute, by the way) narrating it himself on YouTube in under three minutes. A perfect 10/10 for a children’s book: so how do you make an already-perfect story even better? By making a musical out of it, of course!
The 45-minute play, which is playing now at PJ Live Arts @ Jaya One, Petaling Jaya in Selangor, completely breezes by as Floyd (played by Sam Hoye) and Mum (played by Grace Alexander-Scott) jump around and dance.
While the book only features Floyd on his own, the play is slightly different because Floyd and his mother acknowledge that they are only “playing pretend” and Mum reminds Floyd to be thankful that she has made all the props for him to throw into the tree.
It’s hard to tell your inner child to hush when watching Stuck on stage. You’ll find yourself grinning from ear to ear with a great urge to prove how well you can shout numbers out.
The musical adaptation of the book included songs written by director Adam Bampton-Smith and composed by Emma Clayton that completely thrilled the audience of six-year-olds that also attended the preview.
Hoye and Alexander-Scott, who have been performing Stuck since August 2012, double up as puppeteers for most of the songs that involve animals.
It starts off with a slightly questionable cowboy cat (complete with a Southern American accent!) that bragged about being able to cross the road without looking for cars (because cats have nine lives), followed by an Argentinian orang utan who did the Orangu-Tango and a slow whale song duet with the blue whale (who also eventually gets stuck in the tree) and his new friend the jellyfish.
The ultimate crowd pleasers were Fireman Floyd and Fireman Mum who brought water guns onto the stage.
The show isn’t just fun and games, of course. As with most children’s performances, Stuck the musical had quite a few lessons to impart to children.
Several times throughout the show, Floyd gets a little demanding and goes overboard when searching for things to throw into the tree. Nothing too naughty – just a little out of hand. But then again, what more would you expect from a boy who throws “a long-distance lorry to knock down the rhinoceros” he had thrown into his tree.
Mum’s regular response to these annoying antics is to take a deep breath and count to 10 – a good, but often ignored, tip in patience for both kids and adults. It is hard to tell if children will actually get this at first because all they will want to do is count up to 10, too.
Hoye and Alexander-Scott perform the piece with such fluidity and energy that it’s easy to forget that they are professional actors instead of mother and child.
All that said, looking at the props alone is enough to leave you impressed.
Ultimately, the most disappointing thing about Stuck is when it ends. Suddenly, it all feels too short and you’d start rummaging around for an imaginary rewind button so you can watch the whole thing all over again.
Stuck is playing at PJ Live Arts, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya in Selangor till March 16. Purchase tickets (starting at RM50) and check showtimes at www.tix.my or call 017-228 9849/