The Grinning Man
3 January 2018
Bristol Old Vic
Trafalgar Studios, London
It's hard to know where to start when reviewing The Grinning Man, except to say, "Wow!" It is the best new musical I've seen in a while. Everything about it works, from the music to the set to the costumes and, of course, the puppetry, which flows so naturally with the rest of the action.
This is a show that brings tears to your eyes one moment and laughter to your lips in the next. It has a macabre, grotesque feel that reminds me of Shockheaded Peter. Although I've read a lot of Hugo's works, I've yet to get to L'Homme Qui Rit, but after leaving the theatre, I found myself obsessed with plans to read the book in both French and English and to check out the graphic novel and a few of the film versions--the story gripped me that much.
As for the musical itself, I really wish I had the opportunity to see it again, as I think it is a show that would offer something new each viewing. It only has a short run, but I will cross my fingers for at least a CD recording; the music certainly warrants it, and the cast deserve to have their excellent performances captured for posterity. This is a show that will stay with me for a long, long time, and if you are in London, I highly recommend paying a visit. I believe it runs until mid February. 5 stars from me. I would give it six if I could.