Theatre | Mr Stink | Ken Longworth

UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP: John O’Hare and Romy Watson in Mr Stink. Photo: Heidrun Lohr
UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP: John O’Hare and Romy Watson in Mr Stink. Photo: Heidrun Lohr

THE audience reaction to the comedy Mr Stink at its Sydney Opera House premiere in April last year told the director, Jonathan Biggins, that it was a hit. While the play is based on a popular children’s book and is aimed at 6- to 12-year-olds, it had adults laughing loudly.

So it’s not surprising that the production company, CDP Kids, has mounted a six-month Australian tour of the show. It will have performances at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on July 12 and at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on July 25 and 26.

The book Mr Stink was written by David Walliams, an English comedian and actor who was in the TV series Little Britain. It looks at the way two very disparate people – Chloe, a girl who is bullied at school and under-rated by her snobbish mother, and a homeless man, Mr Stink – become friends and help to solve their problems and those of others.

The book was adapted for the stage by Australian writer Maryam Master and has proved to be a hit beyond Australia, with the original production being staged in Middle East cities Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The current touring show, again directed by Jonathan  Biggins, has just one member of the original cast – Romy Watson, who plays Chloe. The other actors are: John O’Hare as Mr Stink, who does his best to bring good to the world; Anna Cheney, as Chloe’s mum, Mrs Crumb, who unsmilingly insists that the name is pronounced “Croome”; Amanda Laing, in three roles, including Chloe’s younger sister, Annabelle, who is a high achiever, the school bully, Pippa, and a journalist; and Darren Sabadina, also in three roles, as Raj, an Indian shopkeeper who offers Chloe good advice, her father, Mr Crumb, who hides under the stairs from his wife, and a prime minister who is the victim of an amusing accident.

Chloe meets Mr Stink when she goes to a local park to get away from her mother. When the mother decides to stand for election to parliament, vowing to ban homeless people from the streets if she is elected, Chloe sneaks Mr Stink home and hides him in the garden shed.

Newcastle-raised Jonathan Biggins, who has won acclaim as an actor, writer and director, has shown an aptitude for staging shows for young people, with his 2012 show, The Luck Child, winning the Sydney Theatre Award for best production for children. Mr Stink was nominated for this year’s award in that category.    

Mr Stink can be seen at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on July 12 at 12pm and 2pm. Tickets: $20. Bookings: 4993 4266. It has shows at the Civic Theatre on Tuesday, July 25, at 1pm and 6pm, and on Wednesday, July 26, at 10am and 12pm. Tickets: $30, subscriber $25, child, 12 and under, $16, family of four, $80. Bookings: 4929 1977.