Shockheaded Peter

Previewed 14 February 2001, Opened 19 February 2001, Closed 28 April 2001 at the Piccadilly Theatre
Previewed 4 April 2002, Opened 11 April 2002, Closed 15 June 2002 at the Noel Coward Theatre

The 'junk opera' Shockheaded Peter in London inspired by Heinrich Hoffmann's The Struwwelpeter

Shockheaded Peter is based on a sequence of unpleasant poems by Heinrich Hoffmann, written in Germany in 1844 as The Struwwelpeter. You might remember the boy that never cuts his hair or trims his nails or the red-legged scissorman waiting in the wardrobe for thumbsuckers.

These poems have now been turned into songs and staged as a gory junk opera in which Hoffman's characters are re-cast as the dysfunctional offspring of a mutant fin-de-siecle society - a 19th Century pop video set in a Victorian advent calendar with cheap illustions, dusty props, shadowy figures, staged with low tech, hand made precision.

This new staging the original cast along with David Thomas and Two Pale Boys who will bring their own extraordinary interpretation to this award-winning show.

Musical inspired by The Struwwelpeter written and illustrated by Heinrich Hoffmann. Created by Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Graeme Gilmour, Tamzin Griffin and Jo Pocock with music by the Tiger Lillies (Adrian Huge, Martyn Jacques and Adrian Stout). Directed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch with designs by Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch and Graeme Gilmour.

This show has been seen in America and at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in West London when it won the 1998 London Critics' Circle Award for 'Best Designer' for Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch and Graeme Gilmour. Now, following a successful season at the Piccadilly Theatre when this show won the 2002 Olivier Award for 'Best Entertainment', Shockheaded Peter returns to the West End for a strictly limited season.

"Riotously original and funny, Shockheaded Peter is a delightful musical elegy for dead children. Inspired by the mid-19th century Struwwelpeter stories of Heinrich Hoffmann... These, like the Grimm stories, recount vivid nightmares of children who behaved badly and paid the price... These fates are casually recounted on a brightly lit toy theatre stage of slamming doors and scary puppets compered by a slinky bogeyman (Julian Bleach), and a trio of spooky musicians... the tales are recounted as moralising lessons with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon, Straw-headed Peter is punished only for being born with talon-like fingers, horrid hair and a ghastly paunch. He is buried under the floorboards. The show is his triumphal emergence and revenge, in gaint puppet form." The Daily Mail

"The music ranges through one insidious style after another - cafe chantant, valse infernale, tango, steel band, klezmer... How exhilarating - how rare - to see a post-1960 musical show worth seeing for musical reasons! Yet you could be tone-deaf and still find Shockheaded Peter a knock-out theatrical experience... A key part of its success is the theatrical imagination of its directors, Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, who are two of the most valuable people in the British performing arts today... Shockheaded Peter is in love with theatre itself. Crouch's set makes fabulous effects out of painted flats, exaggeratedly vanishing perspectives, traps that open in the floor, objects that descend from above, doors and windows galore. Then there are huge puppets, elaborate costumes, ornate wigs, cartoon make-up. They are very audacious - there are heart-stopping pauses when you wonder if something has gone wrong, but no - and yet they direct as if they had never lost the love of toy theatres they seem to have acquired in childhood." The Financial Times

"If you are silly enough to miss this show, you probably belong in it. Shockheaded Peter, inspired by the cautionary tales of Heinrich Hoffmann in The Struwwelpeter, is about all the stupid ways in which children can and do ignore the advice of their elders and betters. It is part travelling freak show, part amateur dramatics, part, well, this is where theatre leaves the fourth wall far behind and begins to exist in its own lusciously imagined world... The plot is cemented into delectable shape by the Tiger Lillies' magnificent songs... Regardless of their gruesome subject matter, these are some of the wittiest, gutsiest lyrics I have heard since the heyday of Porter and Berlin... This is one of the funniest shows I've ever seen." The Independent

Shockheaded Peter in London at the Piccadilly Theatre previewed from 14 February 2001, opened on 19 February 2001 and closed on 28 April 2001, return to London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 4 April 2002, opened on 11 April 2002 and closed on 15 June 2002