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.
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.