Utilising the toilet and tongue-in-cheek humour you may expect from the co-creator of Little Britain, Mr Stink is equal parts thoughtful and naughty.
It all starts when 12-year-old Chloe, bullied at school and overlooked at home, makes friends with Mr Stink, the local tramp – or, as he prefers to be known, vagabond.
When her mother, aspiring politician and accomplished faultfinder Janet, announces a campaign platform to drive the homeless out of town, Chloe decides to hide Mr Stink in the garden shed.
Bullying, isolation, homelessness and fractured family dynamics are explored with the respect young audiences are rarely given. Punctuated with enough farts and burps to keep the kids laughing, Mr Stink manages to impart many morals without becoming too “preachy”.
The plot moves at a cracking pace, condensing the 272 pages of the book into 60 minutes.
John O’Hare as Mr Stink is charming. The visible wafts of stench that gust and breeze off him are a wonderful piece of theatrical costuming design.
Romy Watson portrays well Chloe’s anxiety and moral fortitude as she deals with the school bully. Amanda Laing and Darren Sabadina play the entire supporting cast with such chameleonic skill that I didn’t realise until reading the cast notes after the performance.
Anna Cheney’s Mrs Crumb (or rather, Mrs Croobe) is the show’s highlight, a manically captivating and terrifying ice queen who is melted by Mr Stink’s understanding and acceptance.
Directed Jonathan Biggins, Mr Stink’s stage adaption doesn’t bang with the same punchy humour as the book but still garnered a full-house of chortling children.
Mr Stink was presented at the Dunstan Playhouse as part of the DreamBIG children’s festival, which continues until May 27.