The inimitable Kneehigh retools The Beggar’s Opera in Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs).
I loved The Grinning Man in both its incarnations – from Bristol’s Old Vic to the West End – and so I was most pleased to hear that it would be immortalised in vinyl, or whatever the digital equivalent is…
Any number of shows could have been included in this post; frankly it’s ludicrous that I decided to stick with my whole top 12 idea… As I’ve seen about 90 more individual shows than last year.
There’s superlative work from Gyre & Gimble’s puppetry, Loren O’Dair and James Alexander-Taylor’s work with the wolf is exceptional, and the whole show is just as satisfying and challenging and complex and beautiful as I remembered. Recommended.
The Grinning Man may not be suitable for children (it has an age limit of 12 years), and it’s certainly not a Christmas show in any way, but within the grotesque world that Grose, Morris, Teitler and Phillips create there is a rare and genuine theatre magic.
Never let it be said that Cornish theatre company Kneehigh lack in ambition. Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum has accrued significant cultural acclaim since its publication in 1959, gaining its author the Nobel Prize in Literature and later being turned into a film.
Given the current offering at The Globe as part of the Summer of Love season, Emma Rice’s seminal work for Kneehigh fits right in – it almost feels as though the programme was concocted to showcase this show as its crown jewel.
The master stroke of the creative team at Bristol Old Vic is to re-imagine his The Man Who Laughs through the dirty lens of Tim Burton, and to centre The Grinning Man on the brutally malevolent humour of a moping and Machiavellian clown played to and beyond perfection by Julian Bleach.
Written by Carl Grose and directed by BOV AD Tom Morris, The Grinning Man is a deliciously dark fairytale of a show, sharing DNA with the likes of Kneehigh and The Light Princess in its theatrical playfulness and musical complexity.