The Grinning Man

If you haven’t already been to see this gothic masterpiece and adaptation of Victor Hugo’s L’Homme qui rit then make sure you do it soon as it enters its final weeks at Trafalgar Studios, now extended for 3 final weeks until 5th May. Other than knowing this show had amazing puppetry, from the same team that worked on Warhorse, I didn’t know much about it but I loved every minute when I saw it a couple of weeks ago and it left the majority of the audience on their feet applauding when it reached its spectacular ending.

L’Homme qui rit fits with one of Hugo’s popular themes seen in his other popular works such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, whereby a man with a deformity shows up the society he’s living in. The difference here is that the main character, Grinpayne, is not born with his deformity but is the victim of an attack as a child. The early story is told through childhood puppets of the two main characters Grinpayne and Dea and throughout there is an amazing wolf, which all feel almost as alive as the rest of the cast. Despite the tragic premise this show is full of wit and many one-liners and the brilliant clown Barkilphedro, breaking the show up and making it much more of a tragicomedy. I laughed a lot more than I thought I was going to.

Trafalgar Studios is a really small theatre so its even more amazing that the cast of 16 and impressive sets all fit, but the sets are cleverly designed so that what spends a large chunk of the show as a circus cart spins round to be a royal bedchamber. Some parts of the show the cast even spill out in to the auditorium making it even more intimate and adding to the spectacle. Add to this an amazing song list of around 30 songs which are enchanting and often hummable, I’m still humming “Stars In the Sky” a few weeks on. 

So what are you waiting for, book your tickets while you still can here

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