The Grinning Man, madness and wonder, theatre review.

Fresh, profound, riotous, bizarre, somewhat confused, a little overlong, magical. While contradictory, all of these are true of this new show, looseły based on the Victor Hugo novel, TheMan Who Laughs. Brought to the stage by Tom Morris of War Horse fame, it’s one of the most bizarre shows I’ve seen and it’s well suited to the small space of Trafalgar Studios. The set is excellent, particularly, in this theatre. Much of the acting is brilliant, I loved the clown and the mad sister. The puppetry is stunning , the wolf mostly (but were it removed from the story it wouldn’t impact it at all).

I found the first act long and disjointed. As with all fairytales, one has to suspend disbelief but this, in the end, became a little ridiculous for me. The second act I enjoyed much more. I felt it flowed better but still there were many elements that were unnecessary and improbable.
Did I enjoy the show? Yes. Some of the music was wonderful, although at times the lyrics were difficult to hear. Cutting 20 or so minutes of unnecessary and inconsequential material would help a lot. I left feeling somewhat shell shocked, I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. It’s certainly something different and quite magical.

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