Little Gift follows the life of Ted: an old soul who lives all alone but secretly dreams about the parties and adventures of his many other neighbours in Busy Town. One day, a surprise visitor - who finds his employment in helping people - comes along and plants a little seed of hope: the enchanted magic to be found in an old, broken button. As the seed grows, Ted discovers a newfound purpose: cleaning his house and adding a splash of colour to the interior decorations, so that his green-leafed company can grow happily. All seems lost, however when eventually the tree grows too large for the home, and Ted is forced to leave it outside. But that’s the thing with a little gift: its size is not proportional to its wonders. Every day villagers come by to see Ted’s magnificent tree, blossoming high above the terraces – and Ted’s lonely existence is transformed into one of delight.
The set – the delightfully eclectic and transformative creation of Joss Matzen, John Matzen and Sharon McWilliams – consists of a hillock of old and dusty suitcases; inside which exist the localities of Ted’s journey: a towelled beach, a snowy mountain and a glittering party. There is a thrill to be had in the opening of each suitcase and the reveal of another scene, and the overall effect is both innovative and joyous.
Guy Hargreaves as the surprise visitor is as skilful as he is endearing. As the sole performer, he is responsible for the dialogue, the masterful puppetry of Ted and making the show comprehensible to its largely younger demographic. Oh – and he plays the ukulele to round it all off.
He is underscored by Mark Melville’s charming, original composition – which echoes the jubilant and gentle optimism of the events onstage and serves to immerse us in the warm glow of a kind-hearted alternate universe.
Accessible to all and modest in its excellence, Little Gift is a heart-warming production with a moral of which me might all be reminded.