"Imaginative, powerful, challenging story telling"
by Jill Lawrie on 12/02/20

Embarking on a UK tour is Sally Cookson’s adaptation of the best selling 2011 novel by Patrick Ness – “A Monster Calls” which has already spawned a movie starring Liam Neeson and a successful production at the Old Vic. The original inspiration for the plot is credited to Siobhan Dowd who tragically died before she was able to write her book.
The emotional and challenging storyline focuses on Conor a 13 year old boy struggling with school bullying and his terminally ill single mother. Tormented by his pent up feelings of anger and frustration one night a monster calls from the ancient yew tree outside. The mysterious presence will recount three fables if Conor can reveal the fourth by telling the truth.

Director Sally Cookson, known for her visionary and inventive theatricality, has excelled with this minimal staging of ropes, ladders and chairs. Using intricately tangled ropes to form the gnarled tree and aerial supports together with complex choreography of the actors bodies, she depicts an ideal balance blending reality with fantasy.

The talented ensemble cast bring this intimate portrayal of grief and heartbreak to life as young Conor is forced to face mortality and understand the truth. The monster is well represented by the bare-chested Keith Gilmore, looking as confident in the air as he does on stilts and his strong voice conveys a dominating presence. Ammar Duffus shines as the isolated and vulnerable Conor coming to terms with the painfully drawn out enormity of his situation. Good support too from Ewan Wardrop (his absent father) and Maria Omakinwa as his dying Mum.

A cleverly crafted, physical production that is not afraid of exploring deep emotions but always with great sensitivity.

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