EVERYONE has a story to tell – and some of the best stories are true.

This is the theme of the magical A Tiger’s Tale, by M6 Theatre Company, telling the story of the Holmfirth tiger Fenella who went to live in West Yorkshire with a family of travelling acrobats.

The production involved just three actors with a ramshackle stage set in the Riverfront’s studio theatre. But the intimate setting and simple props were enough for this troupe to deliver a moving, fascinating story using puppets, songs and circus performance.

The three roll on to the stage as story tellers who tell the tale of an ordinary family – Ma, Pa and Titch – who leave their ordinary life and set up a travelling circus. Pa isn’t a good window cleaner but he’s pretty clever on a ladder and circus performer Owen Gaynor delighted the audience with his balancing tricks.

During their time in the big top, Titch saves a tiny tiger cub from an animal trainer and the family nurture the tiger as if it were a pet, naming her Ella - played by a knitted cub and mechanical tiger.

Every now and then the play would change gear as the actors stepped out of their roles and become the storytellers – debating amongst themselves as to where the plot should go.

The story concludes with the family and Ella settling in a West Yorkshire village where the tiger was loved by all. 

She lived for 10 years, tame and as a family pet. In the final scene there’s a black and white image of the real Fenella, cuddled into her owner, which was very moving.

The troupe thoroughly deserved such a positive response from the audience at the end.

Sarah Wigmore