Full casting has been announced for The Old Vic and Bristol Old Vic’s world premiere of A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness’ piercing novel is being brought to both venues in The Old Vic’s 200th year in a powerful new adaptation by director Sally Cookson.
The cast includes Hammed Animashaun, Nandi Bhebhe, Selina Cadell, Matt Costain, Georgia Frost, Stuart Goodwin, Felix Hayes, Jonathan Holby, John Leader, Marianne Oldham, Matthew Tennyson and Witney White.
A Monster Calls previews at The Bristol Old Vic production from 31 May 2018 and at The Old Vic from 7 July 2018 (press night is 17 July).
Thirteen-year-old Conor and his mum have managed just fine since his dad moved to America. But now his mum’s very sick and she’s not getting any better. His grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye. Then, one night, at seven minutes past midnight, Conor is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking. It’s come to tell Conor tales from when it walked before. And when it’s finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears.
On publication, A Monster Calls became a bestseller with children and adults alike with its insight into love, loss and healing. It garnered critical acclaim, including an unprecedented double win of the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals for outstanding children’s literature and illustration. This adaptation is suitable for ages 10+.
Director Sally Cookson said:
“The prospect of adapting Patrick Ness’ beautiful book is a tantalising one and I am chomping at the bit to get started. The story of 13-year-old Conor lost in a mire of anxiety and fear strikes a chord with anyone who’s been threatened with losing someone they love. The combination of gritty realism and magic make it perfect material for theatre – I love a challenge and the big question will be ‘How are they going to create a Tree Monster on stage?’ Come and find out!”
Writer Patrick Ness said: ‘A Monster Calls has always been a collaboration, in all its forms. I like to say I took the baton from the late, great Siobhan Dowd, then handed it on to our illustrator Jim Kay, and what came out was something bigger than anything the three of us could have done by ourselves. I’m now so excited to hand that baton on to the amazing Sally Cookson. She’s assembled an outstanding company.”
Cookson is joined in the creative team by writer in the room Adam Peck, set designer Michael Vale, composer Benji Bower, costume designer Katie Sykes, lighting designer Aideen Malone, sound designer Mike Beer and associate director Miranda Cromwell, with projection: Dick Straker, casting: Jessica Ronane CDG, movement: Dan Canham, puppetry: Laura Cubitt, and aerial work: Matt Costain.
Matthew Tennyson plays Conor. His theatre credits include Making Noise Quietly (Donmar Warehouse); Flare Path (Theatre Royal Haymarket); Salomé (RSC); Cleansed (National Theatre); The Seagull (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); A Breakfast of Eels (The Print Room); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Beautiful Thing (Manchester Royal Exchange). His television credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Grantchester; Humans, Babylon, Father Brown and The Hollow Crown.
Stuart Goodwin plays Monster. His theatre credits include La Strada (The Other Palace/UK tour); Sleeping Beauty (Bristol Old Vic); A Conversation, Two Clouds Over Eden, Peer Gynt (Manchester Royal Exchange); The Gentleman (Jermyn Street Theatre); A Russian in the Woods, Julius Caesar, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (RSC); The Country Wife (Sheffield Crucible) and The Three Musketeers (Young Vic).
Hammed Animashaun plays Anton. His theatre credits include Barber Shop Chronicles, Amadeus, The Threepenny Opera (National Theatre); The Importance of Being Earnest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bugsy Malone, Secret Theatre (Lyric Hammersmith); Measure for Measure (Young Vic); Hate (Barbican); Heros, Married to the Game (Theatre 503); The Boy Who Fell Into a Book (Soho Theatre) and Mogadishu (National Tour).
Nandi Bhebhe plays Teacher. Her theatre credits include The Tin Drum (Liverpool Everyman/UK tour); Twelfth Night, 946, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe); A Season in the Congo (Young Vic); Fela! (National Theatre/Broadway) and 5,6,7,8 (Royal Court).
Selina Cadell plays Grandmother. Her theatre credits include Humble Boy (Orange Tree Theatre); The Dresser (Duke Of York’s); People, The Habit of Art, Stanley (National Theatre); The Line (Arcola Theatre); The Cherry Orchard (The Old Vic); The Clean House (Sheffield Crucible); The Government Inspector (Chichester Festival Theatre); The Rivals (Bristol Old Vic); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Albery Theatre); Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya (Donmar Warehouse).
Georgia Frost plays Sully. Her theatre credits include The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Little Mermaid (the egg).
Felix Hayes plays Dad. His theatre credits include Vice Versa, The Tempest, Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, City Madam, Cardenio, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RSC); Peter Pan, Jane Eyre (Bristol Old Vic/National Theatre); One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and A Christmas Carol (Tobacco Factory).
John Leader plays Harry. His theatre credits include Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: A Reimagining (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Peter Pan, War Horse (National Theatre); Running Wild (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Orange Tree).
Marianne Oldham plays Mum. Her theatre credits include Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (The Old Vic); The Argument (Hampstead Theatre); The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Chichester Festival Theatre); Sons without Fathers, Uncle Vanya (Arcola Theatre/The Belgrade Theatre); You Can Still Make a Killing, The Cherry Orchard (Southwark Playhouse); An Inspector Calls (West End) and How Many Miles to Basra (West Yorkshire Playhouse).
Witney White plays Lily. Her theatre credits include Loserville (West End); Wonderland (National Theatre); Dusty (Charing Cross Theatre) and Room (Stratford East/Dundee Rep/Abbey Theatre).