Sheffield Lyceum show A Monster Calls is a striking piece of beautifully crafted and utterly emotional theatre

Review: A Monster Calls, Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Friday, 13th March 2020, 10:00 am
Patrick Ness’ novel A Monster Calls is brought to life by director Sally Cookson at the Lyceum Theatre on Saturday, March 14 (www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk).
Patrick Ness’ novel A Monster Calls is brought to life by director Sally Cookson at the Lyceum Theatre on Saturday, March 14 (www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk).

Based on the best-selling book, A Monster Calls tells the tale of Conor, a teenager who is dealing with more than his fair share of problems.

His mother is terminally ill, and his relationship with his estranged father and his overbearing grandmother is causing him just as many problems as the school bully. But Connor has a secret; he is befriended by an old yew tree which comes to life to guide Conor through his troubles, as reality and imagination merge to become inseparable.

Keith Gilmore dominates the stage with a roaring presence and a performance which is simply outstanding as The Monster, suspended and tangled in the ropes high above the stage as he bellows out the guidance to the young, lost soul; whilst Ammar Duffas portrays young Conor with sensitivity, vulnerability and a growing strength and confidence.

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Sally Cookson’s direction is beautifully paced and measured, offering both tender moments of emotion nestling side by side with scenes which are an assault on the senses.

With a musical score which reverberates in your chest and jabs at you with icy fingers, coupled with a plain white set littered with suspended ropes, the staging provides a blank canvas on which the ensemble cast bring the story to life with imaginative and, at times, breathtaking visuals.

The play works on a number of levels, being an original and visually intriguing performance piece, an absorbing piece of narrative and a heart-breaking story of acceptance of loss.

A Monster Calls combines multiple elements to form a striking piece of beautifully crafted and utterly emotional theatre.

A Monster Calls is at the Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday, March 14 before continuing on its national tour. The show has already won an Olivier Award.

Tickets for the Lyceum can be purchased from Sheffield Theatres Box Office in person, by phone on 0114 249 6000 or online at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.

Dates for the rest of the tour here: www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2020/a-monster-calls-2