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The Grinning Man

5
New musical based on Victor Hugo's "The Man Who Laughs"
By Robert Iles - 21st Oct 2016

Grinning Man ReviewI hardly know where to start. This is a quite amazing show, a wonderful new musical that positively bursts onto the stage, grabs you by the throat and dares you not to love it. And I did. 

Based on Hugo's story you could be forgiven for expecting a depressing tale of doom and death. Well, at its core there is a deeply sad tale, a boy so horribly disfigured that he is exhibited in a freak show, and a world so universally suppressed under its cruel king that the only pleasure, the only reason to laugh, is that others are worse off than you. Ok, so this doesn't sound like a good plt for a musical, but somehow a funny, poignant, hugely enjoyable production has been created under the guidance of Tom Morris.

With flashes of Black Adder, The Nightmare before Christmas, The Rocky Horrow Show and Les Miserables and using a broad range of styles and puppetry including a wolf that is the match of any War Horse, this fast moving production works on pretty well every level. The set is quite amazing, the music full of energy and emotion and the lighting perfectly pitched to being the best out of the show. Some incredibly funny lines, and brilliantly daft choreography are delivered by an amazingly talented acting team, indeed, had the cast not been so strong it might have been swamped by Julian Bleach's amazing performance as Barkilphedro, which was pure genius. As it was, this ensemble piece was perfectly balanced with a number of beautiful performances; Louis Maskell, Stuart Neal and Gloria Obianyo to name but three - and not forgetting the band! 

If I could, I would sit through this again, every night of its run. It brought tears of pure theatrical pleasure to my eyes and truly touched my heart as only the Grinning Man can. Brilliant.


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