Happy Easter, readers! I hope you ate lots of chocolate and didn’t get caught out by too many April Fools Day jokes! I was going to give you a usual review of a game or movie this week – that was until I went to the theatre in London on Saturday night, with my friend Daisy, and I just need to tell you all about it! The journey to see this musical was a weird one – we had booked tickets to Coraline the Opera, didn’t realise it was a matinee and so missed the show (woops!) We then struggled at 4pm to find something to do, until we saw that under 25s can see some shows at some theatres for only £25! So we booked some good seats and went!
Plus, the main character was inspiration for the Joker, so this counts… right? Without further ado – here is The Grinning Man.
Disclaimer – I obviously understand that this is a limited run (there are still tickets on sale), and not everyone can go see it, but I really enjoyed it, so wanted to share. ON WITH THE REVIEW!
Oh and… reviewing something from memory is harder than it looks, so bear with me! First times etc…
The Grinning Man is a tragicomic musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Man Who Laughs, and is brought to us from the director of War Horse – it uses puppetry in the same way as War Horse, the use of skeletal animals (in this case a wolf, not a horse) and the children within the play.
It unfolds as a crazy fairytale – slightly horrish, slightly whimsical, completely awesome. It’s framed in a huge pair of bared teeth, a bit like Grinpayne’s unfortunate face.
The music was amazing. The score was equally as eerie as it was intriguing, and I liked that the orchestra was underneath the stage, we could only see “Hans” the conductor and pianist from where we were sat in the audience.
It breaks the fourth wall a lot, “I hate the theatre” “Puppetry’s not as easy as it looks” etc., via it’s clown character, Barkilphedro. He spends most of the time he’s being the comic relief, but other characters do help with that too (mostly David Dirry-Moor, one of the three royal siblings). Other characters are other stereotypes from Victorian England, including, but not limited to; Josiana (sexually liberal Duchess), Angelica (mentally unstable Princess), King Clarence (King Henry VIII-esque character, fat and angry). I found most of it hilarious, the gags kept coming, even when you thought they were going to end they would happen again, like the potion feeding scene.
Even when a blooper happened, they got on with it; Barkilphedro rolls off stage at one point and his hat got stuck on a light. Cue a hand gingerly coming out of the side of stage to try and untangle himself. Whilst the audience, including myself, laughed, the actors on stage kept a very straight face.
The actors also get involved in the audience a couple times. They bustle their way through, sitting with people in the audience, making them move all their stuff. It makes the audience feel like they’re actually a part of the freak show. They also make a reference to an audience being there a couple of times whilst on stage. My new claim to fame is Louis Maskell, who plays Grinpayne, stepping on my foot as he went past and leaning down to whisper “Sorry” to me. Very nice of him.
It was honestly the best thing I’ve seen on stage for a long time. I honestly can’t recommend someone go see this more. Under 25s can see this show for only £25, no matter what seat they pick.
Have you seen The Grinning Man? Do you want to go? What else have you seen on stage? I’d love to know! Leave a comment down below!