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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

REVIEW: The Grinning Man at the Trafalgar Studios

Rarely since its transformation into Trafalgar Studios in 2004 has a production felt so at home in this tight intimate venue. The auditorium has been dressed into Trafalgar Fair freak show stage which sets the tone for the production and once the band strikes up the stage explodes with a fusion of creativity and invention that immediately engages, excites and entices us into the strange world of the Grinning Man. The opening song "Laughter is the best medicine" is a delightfully comic scene setter underlying a central theme of the tale.

The creation of a musical from Victor Hugo's epic nineteenth century novels has of course been done before but Carl Grose has adapted "The man who laughs " into a dark mortality tale about the haves and the havenots and about the search for truth. The creative team of director Tom Morris, set designer Jon Bausor, lighting designer Rob Casey, choreographer Jane Gibson and sound designer Simon Baker have created a macabre strange world inhabited by flawed characters who gradually reveal the truth. It is spell binding at times (occasionally too laboured at others) as the story unfolds not just on the stage but in the auditorium itself. 
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