YORK playwright Mike Kenny's new family play, A Tiger's Tale, will play Pocklington Arts Centre on February 16 on M6 Theatre Company's late-winter and spring tour.

Kenny, winner of an Olivier Award for his York Theatre Royal adaptation of E Nesbit's The Railway Children, recounts the "unbelievable true story" of Fenella, a Sumatran tiger brought to Holmfirth by well-known West Riding circus entertainers.

The Overend family of acrobats had adopted the motherless cub in South Africa and she soon took to the cosy life of Holmfirth, living in the small Yorkshire town from 1939 to 1950, when she was often seen being walked past the primary school by her owners. She died after her tenth birthday, much mourned by sisters Kassie and Meg Overend, who had looked after her devotedly.

Kenny's play takes Fenella from a circus train in South Africa, to a steamboat on the Atlantic Ocean and onward to Yorkshire in an energetic show by Rochdale company M6, whose ramshackle travelling troupe performs a high-spirited balancing act of circus, puppetry, live music and song.

The show’s director, Gilly Baskeyfield, lives close to Holmfirth and explains what sparked her interest in the tale of the Holmfirth Tiger: "I came across the story years ago when I met one of the Overend sisters while working on an arts project.

"When I asked the frail old lady about her life, I didn’t expect to hear that she had been an acrobat in her family’s travelling circus troupe, and I was even more amazed to hear that they had reared a tiger cub and brought it back to live amongst the villagers in Holmfirth. It’s a famous story locally but beyond the town it’s hardly known.

"It has always felt like a story that was just waiting to be turned into a play for children. You never know what adventures life has in store and it’s a privilege to have the chance to show that even the most ordinary looking people can have the most extraordinary stories to tell."

A Tiger's Tale will be on tour from February 3 to April 7 with a cast of Owen Gaynor, Sophia Hatfield and Nicola Jayne Ingram, a design by Joss Matzen and original music by James Atherton.

Tickets for the 2.30pm show in Pocklington are on sale on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.